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Ambiguously Ethnic: The Association Between Perceived Racial-Ethnic Miscategorization and Psychosocial Outcomes for Early Adolescents

  • Author(s): Edwards, Elianny C
  • Advisor(s): Graham, Sandra H
  • Mistry, Rashmita S
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examined the association between perceived racial-ethnic miscategorization and somatic symptoms, feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, as well as feelings of school belonging and school safety for mono-racial and multiracial early adolescents. Ethnic pride and school racial-ethnic composition were examined as moderators of these associations. Participants were 5,991 sixth grade students from 26 diverse schools in northern and southern California. Over 25 percent of students in the sample (n =1,602) perceived being miscategorized by their peers. T-test results showed that students who perceived having their racial-ethnic identification miscategorized experienced more somatic symptoms than those who did not perceive racial-ethnic miscategorization. Results also showed a moderating effect of school racial-ethnic composition on the association between racial-ethnic miscategorization and psychosocial outcomes. When students perceived being miscategorized as Multiethnic/Biracial at a school where Multiethnic/Biracial students were the numerical majority, they had lower social anxiety than students who perceived being miscategorized as Multiethnic/Biracial at a school where they were the numerical minority. Overall findings highlight the importance of examining racial-ethnic identification and school ethnic context during early adolescence.

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