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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exploring the “Chameleon Experience” Through the Lens of Multiracial People

  • Author(s): Noriega-Pigg, Erika
  • Advisor(s): Morgan-Consoli, Melissa L
  • et al.

The “chameleon experience,” or the phenomenon of fitting in with different ethnoracial groups, has been suggested to be a common occurrence for multiracial individuals, however, has not been fully studied in the field of psychology. It has yet to be determined what or how the chameleon experience functions for multiracial people and how it impacts this population. This study explored the “chameleon experience” in order to gain a deeper understanding of the process and its influence on multiracial individuals. The study included qualitative interviews with twelve self-identified multiracial participants who reported having experienced changing their behavior in order to fit in with different ethnoracial groups. CQR analysis approach revealed three domains (Fitting-in, Not Fitting-in, and the Impact of Blending-in), fifteen categories, and ten subcategories. Results included Strategies to fit-in, Experiences of Marginalization, as well as moments of Empowerment, Disidentification, and Consciousness. Limitations and future directions for practice and research are discussed.

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