Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 412-420

First online:

Examining Relationships Between Ethnic Identity, Family Environment, and Psychological Outcomes for African American Adolescents

  • Jalika StreetAffiliated withSpelman College
  • , April Harris-BrittAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Email author 
  • , Chanequa Walker-BarnesAffiliated withShaw University

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Ethnic identity has been linked to a number of healthy psychological outcomes for African American adolescents. The levels of conflict and cohesion in the family environment have also been found to be predictive of adolescent mental health. This study examined whether the ethnic identity and levels of conflict and cohesion in the family environments were related to adolescents’ psychological adjustment. Participants included 61 African American adolescents, ages 10–14 years old, and their parents. Hierarchical regression models were used to determine the cumulative effects of ethnic identity and family functioning on adolescent mental health, specifically adolescent levels of depression, self-esteem, and interpersonal functioning. Results indicated that having a positive ethnic identity and a cohesive family environment were most strongly associated with psychological adjustment. Implications of these results are discussed in terms of family interventions.


Early adolescence Ethnic identity Family environment Depression Self-esteem