On the Outside Looking In: Exclusion, Belonging, and Self-Identification

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In line with Social Identity Theory, the social groups we claim (e.g., race, gender, religion) help define our sense of self and fulfill fundamental belonging needs. However, social exclusion experiences may also be especially informative for Multiracial and Multicultural groups (people who claim more than one racial or cultural group identity respectively) since these groups directly challenge singular social categorization norms. In my dissertation, I test the role of group-based exclusion as a catalyst for shifts in self-identification among Multiracial and Multicultural individuals. Specifically, in Chapter 2, two studies test how racial ingroup and outgroup exclusion and inclusion via Cyberball may differentially influence Multiracial individuals’ sense of belonging and identification to multiple ingroups. Chapter 3 explores how Multicultural Latine Americans respond to institutional exclusion communicated via a mock-Census form. Chapter 4 draws from the observed patterns in the previous two sets of studies and tests how exclusion from specific sources predicts identification with various available ingroups for Multiracial and Multicultural people in a series of mediation models. In sum, I find that social exclusion experiences impact not only the ways Multiracial and Multicultural people feel accepted or rejected by different ingroups, but also that exclusion impacts their evaluative and cognitive perceptions of group-level identification. Furthermore, results reveal that the direction of identification (decreased or increased) is influenced by both the specific source of exclusion and the target ingroup membership. This research demonstrates how social exclusion, in contrast to inclusion, acts as a previously underacknowledged, but highly salient pathway of social identity development, particularly for minority-group compared to majority-group identities. Additionally, this work highlights the importance of considering identification as multifaceted and fluid and contributes to the field’s understanding of social identity development and negotiation.





Straka, Brenda (2022). On the Outside Looking In: Exclusion, Belonging, and Self-Identification. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25762.


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