The goal of this study was to explore how White ethnic identities affect psychological well-being, with the hypothesis that ethnic identity would predict greater well-being. There is a dearth of research into White ethnic and even racial identity, which is surprising given the relevance of White identity to dismantling White supremacist ideology. Five hundred eighty-nine White participants, drawn from a sample collected via snowball sampling for another project, were asked to define their ethnic identities in their own words, and were given the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale (RPWBS). The means of subgroups of White ethnicity from the RPWBS were then compared to see whether those identities (and if so, which ones) affected psychological well-being. Contrary to findings from other ethnic groups, self-identifying with a White ethnic label of any type was correlated with lower scores on the RPWBS. In other words, White participants with ethnicities had poorer well-being. This suggests that White ethnic identity may be fundamentally different from other ethnic identities and that White participants may not have explored their identity very well. Indeed, there may not actually be such a thing as a healthy White ethnic identity after all. In practical terms, these findings suggest that anti-racist education may need to further incorporate an understanding of White identity that is open to negative feelings about being White, and that when working with White clients in the mental health professions, encouraging them to explore their White identities further may actually be harmful on the individual level.

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