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Parallel Changes in Ethnic/Racial Discrimination and Identity in High School

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Research has yet to understand how ethnic/racial discrimination and ethnic/racial identity change simultaneously in adolescence. In a multiethnic sample of 211 adolescents (58% female; 41% Asian American, 10% Black, 24% Latinx, 22% White, 4% other), this study used latent change modeling to examine parallel changes in adolescents’ discrimination experiences (frequency and distress) and ethnic/racial identity (private regard, centrality) from 9th to 11th grade. The year immediately following the transition into high school, from 9th to 10th grade, emerged as a challenging period with higher levels of discrimination and accompanying declines in adolescents’ private regard. In contrast, from 10th to 11th grade, discrimination distress declined, and adolescents’ private regard remained relatively stable. Across both time periods, parallel changes were observed for discrimination (frequency, distress) and adolescents’ private regard. Implications for considering the importance of school transition, as well as individual differences by adolescent characteristics and school contexts, are discussed.

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    The gender-neutral, non-binary term of Latinx is used as alternative to Latino/a.


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Authors’ Contributions

Y.W. reviewed the literature, conducted statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; T.Y. designed and supervised the original data collection, helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was supported by a grant awarded to T.Y. and J. Nicole Shelton of Princeton University from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1 R01 HD055436).

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This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

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Correspondence to Yijie Wang.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study procedures were approved by Fordham University Institutional Review Board. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants (parents) included in the study. Informal assent was obtained from adolescents.

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Wang, Y., Yip, T. Parallel Changes in Ethnic/Racial Discrimination and Identity in High School. J Youth Adolescence (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01186-w

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  • Ethnic/racial discrimination
  • Ethnic/racial identity
  • Parallel changes
  • School transition