Date of Award

Winter 12-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Roderick Watts

Second Advisor

Dr. Makungu Akinyela

Third Advisor

Dr. Julia Perilla

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ciara Smalls


The purpose of this study is to explore cultural identity within African Americans. The primary construct of interest is African centered identity, which is comprised of two parts: 1) cultural values with origins in African cultures that have been unintentionally retained, and 2) a social and political ideology that intentionally incorporates elements of an African worldview. This study utilizes qualitative research methodology to investigate the lived experience of African centered identity, and incorporates a developmental perspective.

Semi-structured interviews of 14 adults are analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The results reveal many themes in the participants’ lived experience of their cultural identity that are consistent with prominent descriptions of African centered worldview. Less consistent results regarding participants’ development of their cultural identity are discussed within the framework of racial and ethnic identity stage models. Finally, respondents’ narratives are discussed with regards to their implications for identity measurement, the social construction of identity, and the influence of environment on identity development.

Included in

Psychology Commons