The Ethnic Validity of People’s Lives

  • Forrest B. Tyler
Part of the The Springer Series in Social/Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


This chapter outlines how ethnic validity conceptions help all of us understand the ways individuals find meaning, significance, and direction in our lives as we organize our individual experiences within the nested frameworks of our societies. For this purpose, it is necessary to use the words ethnic and ethnicity in a broader way than has been customary. Specifically, the primary definition of the words ethnic and ethnicity refers to less powerful individuals or population subgroups with a common cultural heritage as designated by customs, characteristics, language, common history, etc. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1972, p. 628). That definition has served to sustain and justify hierarchical and inequitable patterns of human relationships. There is an overlooked, secondary meaning given to these terms. It designates as ethnic any group having a common heritage. This broader definition is necessary to understand how ethnic validity paradigms, nested frameworks, and people’s ethnicity influence the way everyone manages their lives. Ethnic validity models for psychology framed in this broader way do not tacitly or explicitly support a power-oriented normative bias in our approaches to individuals or groups.


Black Woman Personal Growth Social Climate Supernatural Belief Psychosocial Competence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Forrest B. Tyler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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