Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 732–743 | Cite as

Ethnic Identity in Context: Variations in Ethnic Exploration and Belonging within Parent, Same-ethnic Peer, and Different-ethnic Peer Relationships

Empirical Research


Within an ethnically diverse sample of young adults (n = 223, 26% Latin American, 14% Asian American, 32% Filipino American, 28% European American), average levels of ethnic identity was found to vary significantly across different relational contexts. Regardless of ethnicity, young adults reported highest levels of ethnic exploration and ethnic belonging with parents, followed by same-ethnic peers, then different-ethnic peers. Significantly greater variation between relational contexts generally was found for ethnic exploration compared to ethnic belonging. Greater variation in ethnic identity, particularly between same-ethnic and different-ethnic contexts was associated with lower self-esteem, positive affect, relational competence, and higher negative affect, though these liabilities were only found for European American youth. The discussion emphasizes the importance of examining ethnic identity as a dynamic construct that can vary as a function of relationships, and proposes directions for future research.


Ethnic identity Relational variation Parents Peers Adjustment 



Support for this study was provided by a grant from the W.T. Grant Foundation awarded to Dr. Fuligni. We wish to thank anonymous reviewers and colleagues in the Personality and Development in Context theme area at Wake Forest University for their comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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