Need for Ethnic Identity/Identity Clarity

The role parents have on ethnic identity for adolescents:

Although experiences with racism and prejudice can affect self-esteem, Black adolescents tend to find support and positive feedback from adults in the Black community, often including family members (Gaylord-Harden et al., 2007). This support strengthens ethnic identity, which in turn promotes higher self-esteem (Steinberg, 2020). Thus, parents and other family members can have a positive impact on ethnic minority adolescents’ self-esteem by being a source of social support for the young person through helping them develop a more positive ethnic identity. Having a sense of ethnic identity becomes more pronounced in adolescence, possibly due identity emerging as a more salient topic in today’s society (Twenge & Crocker, 2002). Therefore, the research indicates that establishing one’s ethnic identity in adolescence appears to be extremely important (as is the family support that helps promote this positive ethnic identity development).

How cliques and groups can further establish identity clarity:

  • Cliques are friend groups ranging between 2-12 members who share similarities including age, sex, friendships, and common activities such as playing sports, studying, or having grown up together (Steinberg, 2020).
  • Once cliques form, they become the central means of consistent interaction between adolescents (Steinberg, 2020).
  • Cliques eventually help establish and maintain an individual’s identity by narrowing the scope of who the adolescent connects and stays in contact with on a regular basis (Steinberg, 2020).

Multiethnic Adolescent Ethnic Identity Clarity/Development:

  • In high schools including those already ethnically diverse, adolescents form different peer groups within ethnic groups after being divided along ethnic categories (Hardie & Tyson, 2013).
    • This means that in diverse high schools, there tends to be separate groups of Black and White “jocks, populars, etc” (Hardie & Tyson, 2013).
    • Adolescents in one ethnic group are less able to discern between these classifications in another ethnic group (Steinberg, 2020).