Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 319–336 | Cite as

Why Do Pacific People with Multiple Ethnic Affiliations Have Poorer Subjective Wellbeing? Negative Ingroup Affect Mediates the Identity Tension Effect

  • Sam Manuela
  • Chris G. SibleyEmail author


We argue that multi-ethnic affiliation as a member of both the Pacific and majority (European) group creates tension in psychological wellbeing for Pacific peoples of mixed ancestry. Study 1 showed that multi-ethnic Pacific/non-Pacific people were lower in Pacific Familial Wellbeing relative to mono-ethnic Pacific and multi-ethnic Pacific/Pacific people (n = 586). Study 2 replicated this effect in a New Zealand (NZ) national probability sample using a measure of self-esteem (n = 276). Study 2 also modelled the mechanism driving the identity tension effect, and showed that group differences in negative affect toward Pacific peoples fully mediated the effect of ethnic mixed or mono-ethnic group affiliation on self-esteem. This currently affects the one-third of Pacific people who identify as Pacific/non-Pacific in NZ and occurs because multi-ethnic identification promotes the endorsement of negative societal attitudes toward Pacific peoples. Our model indicates that endorsement of such attitudes produces a more negative self-evaluation and generally corrodes subjective wellbeing and family integration. Population projections indicate that this potentially at-risk Pacific/non-Pacific group may increase dramatically in subsequent generations (upwards of 3.3 % of the population by 2026). Implications for the study of Pacific wellbeing, and avenues for applied research targeting this newly-identified emerging social problem are discussed.


Pacific Nations Identity Wellbeing Self-esteem Ethnicity 



Collection of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study 2009 (NZAVS-09) data analyzed in this paper was funded by University of Auckland FRDF (No. 3624435/9853) and ECREA (No. 3626075) grants awarded to Chris Sibley.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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