Identification of Multiracial Adolescents in Research Samples: An Examination and Critique of Existing Practices

Victoria Mauer, Shannon Savell, Alida Davis, Melvin N. Wilson, Daniel S. Shaw, Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined caregivers’ longitudinal reports of adolescent multiracial categorization across the ages of 9.5, 10.5, and 14 years, and adolescents’ reports of their own multiracial categorization at the age of 14 years. A portion of caregivers’ reports of adolescent multiracial status were inconsistent across the years of the study; some adolescents’ and caregivers’ responses differed when questions assessing multiracial status were phrased in different ways; and adolescent and caregiver reports did not always align when adolescents were 14 years old. Given these findings, we recommend that researchers consider using multiple methods of racial data collection and collapsing the results to report estimated ranges of racial representation in samples, rather than specific percentages. Furthermore, when racial data must be provided by a single informant in the context of early adolescence, we suggest that researchers should think critically about which group’s perspective, adolescents’ or caregivers’, is more relevant to the research questions at hand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • at-risk/high-risk populations
  • identity
  • identity processes
  • race/racial issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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