In an effort to address the complexity of multiracial lived experience in identifying, Rockquemore (1999) posited a multidimensional framework of biracial identity. In the current model, Rockquemore and Brunsma (2002) proposed four dimensions: a singular identity, a border identity, a protean identity, and a transcendent identity.
Rockquemore’s construction of identity is based on her research with Black/White biracial individuals. Based on interviews, Rockquemore (2002) identified four themes that biracial individuals may identify: (1) a border identity such as a blending of both races, (2) a singular identity with only one parent’s race, (3) a protean identity which varies based on the races of other people in the group, and (4) a transcendent identity where one avoids racial labels and describing one’s self through other personal attributes. The four identity dimensions accounted for some of the context-specific interactions that may affect an individual’s identity development. Unique to the Multidimensional Model of Biracial Identity is the highlighted difference between validated and invalidated border identities, which depend on whether other people attempt to disagree with individual’s identity. Also, the protean identity included the concept of social context and how that might impact an individual’s identity 24 description. Therefore, when a multiracial person anticipated that his appearance may be questioned such as a comment like “you don’t look Black,” his identity disclosure might be different than when he believed his Black identity might be more accepted.
Furthermore, Rockquemore and Brunsma (2002) factored in the socially perceived appearance of individuals and skin color. Both concepts might affect a biracial individual’s racial identity development. The Multidimensional Model of Biracial Identity has been utilized in recent studies with this population and has provided some insight into the ways that multiracial individuals might racially identify differently from monoracial individuals. Recently, Lou and colleagues (2011) have expanded the framework to evaluate how it may work with Asian and White multiracial individuals.
In their study, gaps in Rockquemore’s model are highlighted and a call is put forth for further insight into the variables that might affect multiracial individuals when they are racially identifying. Specifically, Lou and colleagues (2011) pointed out that the relationship between the multiracial individual and the person who is externally evaluating the multiracial person’s identity might be of significance. Additionally, they highlighted the relationship between validation and the individual’s perception of whether the identity put forth is validated by the other person. Though Multidimensional Model of Biracial Identity is a comprehensive approach to understanding the varying ways individuals identify, there is a gap in understanding the individuals’ internal experience of their own identity as authentic and how this impacts their psychological well-being.