Ethnic Identity

Scale: Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure – Revised (MEIM-R)

What it measures:

  • A youth’s identification with his or her ethnic group.

Intended age range: This scale has been used with 13- to 18-year-olds and is most appropriate for adolescent populations.

Brief description: The MEIM-R consists of 6 items, 3 assessing exploration and 3 assessing commitment. Exploration refers to efforts to learn more about one’s ethnic group and to participation in the cultural practices of this group. Commitment reflects positive affirmation of one’s group and a sense of commitment to the group. The items are preceded by an open-ended question that elicits the respondent’s spontaneous ethnic self-label (i.e., “In terms of ethnic group, I consider myself to be ___________.”) Sample exploration items include: “I have spent time trying to find out more about my ethnic group, such as its history, traditions, and customs” and “I have often talked to other people in order to learn more about my ethnic group.” Sample commitment items include: “I have a strong sense of belonging to my own ethnic group” and “I understand pretty well what my ethnic group membership means to me.” Youth respond on a 5-point scale: Strongly disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, or Strongly agree. The measure concludes with a list of ethnic groups that the respondent can check to indicate both their own and their parents’ ethnic backgrounds.

Rationale: This measure was selected based on its brevity, evidence of reliability and validity across both male and female and ethnically diverse adolescents, and flexibility of use with youth regardless of the specific racial or ethnic group with which the youth identifies.

Cautions: Several items on the scale ask about the respondent’s ethnic group, group membership, or ethnic background. It is possible that some youth may not identify with a particular ethnic group or be familiar with these terms or concepts. However, an introductory prompt is provided that may be useful for respondents who have limited familiarity with these concepts.

Special administration information: Some youth may identify with more than one ethnic group. Options in these cases include instructing youth to think about the group with which they identify most strongly when responding or having youth respond to the questions separately for each ethnic group with which they identify.

How to score: Each item is scored on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree). The measure yields subscale scores for Exploration and Commitment, each of which is computed as the average of the 3 items for that subscale. If the overall strength of ethnic identity or the degree to which ethnic identity is achieved is of primary interest, the two scales can be combined by taking the average of the 6 items.

How to interpret findings: Higher Exploration scores indicate greater engagement in learning about one’s group and participation in ethnic cultural practices. Higher Commitment scores indicate positive affirmation of one’s group and a sense of commitment to that group.

Access and permissions: The measure is available for non-commercial use with no charge and can be obtained here.

Alternatives: None recommended.


Citation: Phinney, J. S., & Ong, A. D. (2007). Conceptualization and measurement of ethnic identity: Current status and future directions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 271-281. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.54.3.271

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