Bookshelf: Adding to Scholars' Tool Kit

Issue Date: 
February 7, 2011

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that one in every three Americans is a person of color, a statistic that is expected to increase to one in two by the middle of this century. And experts say it is likely that the differences that have historically existed between racial groups are likely to sustain themselves.

For this reason, and also because the question of how members of an ethnic group regard themselves and others is an important part of research, two members of the Pitt School of Social Work have compiled into book form a collection of instruments or measures that focus on racial and ethnic groups.

Measuring Race and Ethnicity
(Springer, 2011) is written by Larry E. Davis—who is the School of Social Work dean, Donald M. Henderson Professor, and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems at Pitt—and Rafael Engel, a professor of social work.The book offers psychological measures of common phenomena such as racial identity, acculturation, and intra- and intergroup relations to be used by researchers to compare concepts across groups and to better evaluate differences and disparities. Most of the instruments date from the 1990s or later, though the book also includes still-useful scales from earlier years.

Included are 14 measures for African Americans, such as the Rejection Sensitivity Race Questionnaire; eight Caucasian-specific instruments, including the Being White in America scale; 19 acculturation scales for Latinos, some specific to Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Chicanos; 17 scales for Asian Americans; and others.

Measuring Race and Ethnicity is expected to be a valuable resource for researchers, particularly those in psychology, social work, and public health who examine cultural and race-related topics. The authors said they are committed to updating the volume every few years, citing the field’s fast-paced change and the need, for example, for more ethnic-specific scales to be developed.

—By Sharon S. Blake