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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Change in Ethnic Identity across the High


Changes in adolescents’ ethnic exploration, belonging, and committed identity statuses (e.g., foreclosure, achievement) were examined over the four years of high school. Results from 541 adolescents with Latin American, Asian, and European backgrounds suggest that, as a group, adolescents do not report developmental changes in their ethnic exploration and belonging over time. Normative changes toward more committed identity statuses also were not found. Yet, within-person analyses of change reveal that individual adolescents exhibited substantial fluctuation in exploration, belonging, and identity status across the years, and this fluctuation was associated with concurrent changes in family cohesion, proportion of sameethnic peers, and ethnic centrality. Discussion focuses on the value of examining intraindividual change over several years in order to more fully understand processes of ethnic identity development during adolescence.

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