A Closer Look at Peer Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and Psychological Well-being Among Urban Chinese American Sixth Graders

Abstract

Recent research suggests that although ethnic discrimination may have negative consequences for psychological well-being among youth of Chinese descent as it does for other ethnic groups, ethnic identity beliefs may buffer against such effects. Data for this study were drawn from the Early Adolescent Cohort Study, an investigation of contextual influences on the social, emotional, and academic adjustment of youth in ethnically diverse New York City middle schools. The present study sample consists of Chinese American (= 84) and African American (= 119) sixth graders. Results suggest that Chinese American youths’ own positive affect toward their ethnic group (private regard) was positively associated with higher self-esteem. In addition, the more favorably Chinese American youth perceived that others view their group (public regard), the fewer depressive symptoms they reported. In addition, among Chinese American youth, more favorable public regard attenuated the negative relationship between peer ethnic discrimination and depressive symptoms. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of the commonalities among ethnic and racial minority groups’ experiences of discrimination as well as the unique challenges that Chinese American youth face.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The Early Adolescent Cohort Study is part of the NYU Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education, of which Diane Hughes and Niobe Way are two co-Principal Investigators.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to the first author (Grant No. 0511985) and an award by the National Science Foundation to Diane Hughes and Niobe Way for the Early Adolescent Cohort Studies of the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education at New York University (Grant No. 0218159).

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Correspondence to Deborah Rivas-Drake.

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Rivas-Drake, D., Hughes, D. & Way, N. A Closer Look at Peer Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and Psychological Well-being Among Urban Chinese American Sixth Graders. J Youth Adolescence 37, 12–21 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-007-9227-x

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Keywords

  • Chinese Americans
  • Ethnic and racial discrimination
  • Ethnic and racial identity
  • Early adolescence