The development of an achieved personal identity is one of the main tasks of adolescence, and one's ethnicity is central to this process, at least for minorities. However, ethnic identity development during adolescence has been little studied.
The aims of the proposed study are to assess ethnic identity development in adolescence, to compare ethnic identity development in minority (Black and Mexican-American) and White adolescents, and examine the impact of ethnic identity issues on psychological adjustment, particularly for minorities. The study will be conducted over two years. During the first year, questionnaire measures of ethnic identity and adjustment will be pilot tested with a small group of Black, Mexican-American, and White seventh and tenth graders from integrated schools. These studies will also be interviewed both to establish the validity of the questionnaire and to refine interview questions and procedures. During the second year, a large scale questionnaire will be administered to intact seventh and tenth grade classrooms, to assess both process and content aspects of ethnic identity and psychological adjustment as measured by a variety of standardized measures. From the students surveyed by the questionnaire, 96 students will be randomly selected (to represent equally each ethnic, age, and sex group) for in-depth interviews to assess ethnic identity and adjustment. Analyses will be carried out to examine differences in ethnic identity between younger and older adolescents, and among the three ethnic groups, and to assess the impact of each component of ethnic identity on school, peer, and home adjustment. It is hypothesized that those adolescents who have examined the meaning of their ethnicity and have made a decision regarding their ethnic identity will show better adjustment than those who have not. However, adjustment will vary as a function of both the context (school, peers, home) and the orientation (monocultural, bicultural, or assimilated). These data will contribute to an understanding of minority adolescents which will be of value to teachers, counselors, therapists, and others who work with adolescents.