Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

A Universal Intervention Program Increases Ethnic-Racial Identity Exploration and Resolution to Predict Adolescent Psychosocial Functioning One Year Later

  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
  • Olga Kornienko
  • Sara Douglass Bayless
  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
Empirical Research


Ethnic-racial identity formation represents a key developmental task that is especially salient during adolescence and has been associated with many indices of positive adjustment. The Identity Project intervention, which targeted ethnic-racial identity exploration and resolution, was designed based on the theory that program-induced changes in ethnic-racial identity would lead to better psychosocial adjustment (e.g., global identity cohesion, self-esteem, mental health, academic achievement). Adolescents (N =215; Mage =15.02, SD =.68; 50% female) participated in a small-scale randomized control trial with an attention control group. A cascading mediation model was tested using pre-test and three follow-up assessments (12, 18, and 67 weeks after baseline). The program led to increases in exploration, subsequent increases in resolution and, in turn, higher global identity cohesion, higher self-esteem, lower depressive symptoms, and better grades. Results support the notion that increasing adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity can promote positive psychosocial functioning among youth.


Ethnicity Race Ethnic identity Racial identity Intervention 


Data Sharing Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.


We are grateful to the students, teachers, and school administrators who partnered with us in the development and testing of the Identity Project. We also thank the following individuals for their contributions to the research process and/or to the development of the Identity Project intervention: Diamond Bravo, Michelle Capriles-Escobedo, Chelsea Derlan, Lluliana Flores, Stefanie Fuentes, Alicia Godinez, Elizabeth Harvey-Mendoza, Steven Hobaica, Nicole Hollis, Vanessa Martinez-Morales, Flavio Marsiglia, Danielle Seay, M. Dalal Safa, and Benjamin Smith. Finally, we thank Nancy Gonzales for her consultation regarding the findings.


This work was funded by internal funds from the Latino Resilience Enterprise in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University.

Authors’ Contributions

A.U.T. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript; O.K. performed the statistical analysis, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted a portion of the manuscript; S.D.B. participated in the design and coordination of the study; K.U. participated in the design of the study and the interpretation of the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Human Subjects Research

The current study has been conducted in accordance with APA ethical guidelines for the participation of human subjects and a University Institutional Review Board approved the informed consent and procedures in this study.

Informed Consent

Informed parental consent and youth assent was obtained from all participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
    • 1
  • Olga Kornienko
    • 2
  • Sara Douglass Bayless
    • 3
  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
    • 2
  1. 1.Harvard Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.OMNI InstituteDenverUSA

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