Kim’s Asian American Identify Development Model

Brief Overview

Jean Kim’s Asian American Identity Development Model emphasizes racial identity to showcase the “social and psychological consequences” of being racially minoritized in the United States. The purpose of this theory was to examine the process by which Asian Americans resolve their identity conflict around being Americans of Asian ancestry, living in a predominantly White society.


Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.





Information provide by Jamaal Harrison & Da’Shay Portis

About the Author

Jean Kim conducted research on the experiences of Japanese American women and developed the Asian American racial identity model in 1981.  Kim later expanded her work in 2012 to explore a lifespan model of Asian American students.

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory:  Five Stages (Sequential and Progressive):

  • Ethical Awareness 
    • Identity is formed through family structure, prior to integration of school and peers
  • White Identification 
    • Individual actively attempts to assimilate and identify as White to avoid criticisms of differences
  • Awakening to social & political consciousness 
    • Individuals have realization of acts of discrimination stem from the structure of race in our society
    • Begin to join forces with other oppressed groups to uplift and move race forward
  • Redirection to Asian American Consciousness 
    • Individuals develop a sense of pride within themselves with support of their family, friends, social networks
  • Incorporation
    • Individual establishes healthy self-concept, integrate and interact with others outside of his or her own race


Application of Theory to Practice

This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.


Annotations of Associated Literature

“Students who worked with advisors who encouraged reflection in goal setting and intentional planning and discussed with students their nonacademic life experiences were more likely to develop abilities and perspectives associated with self-authorship” (Evans et al., 190).


Original Citation


Kim, J. (1981). The process of Asian-American identity development: A study of Japanese American women’s perceptions of their struggle to achieve Positive identities. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Kim, J.  (2001). Asian American identity development theory. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson III (Eds.), New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 67-90). New York: New York University Press.

Additional Resources

The following Prezi reviews Cross and Fhagen-Smith’s Model of Black Identity Development, Helms’s Model of White Identity Development, Ferdman And Gallegos’s Model of Latino Identity Development, Kim’s Asian American Identity Development Model, and Horse’s Perspective on American Indian Identity Development. The prezi includes critiques, application, and an activity. The prezi also includes a short preview of the movie Crash (2004) which displays many examples of racial identity development, though the prezi does not state them explicitly. The activity includes an extension of the video, which asks students to identify a fictional or a real character who portrays racial identity development. This is useful in providing alternate, tangible understandings of the various theories.

A presentation of the theory and how it can be used and applied to students in higher education settings.                                             Link:

For additional resources on Kim’s model and how it can be applied to student development, click here.

Information submitted by Hollie Daniels and Jesse Ford

This page was written and created by Michelle Robinson. The webpage is maintained by Amanda Peerce and Jesse Ford.  For information on the page, please contact Amanda Peerce at or Jesse Ford at