American identity revisited: The relation between national, ethnic, and personal identity in a multiethnic sample of emerging adults

Liliana Rodriguez, Seth J. Schwartz, Susan Whitbourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present mixed-methods study investigated meanings and affective valences ascribed to "American identity" and the ways in which these meanings and valences relate to ethnic and personal identity. The data were collected from 2004 to 2006 and used a multiethnic sample of 287 college students residing in Miami, Florida. Subjective meanings of American identity were assessed using four qualitative questions that were coded thematically: characteristics that define the typical American, characteristics that describe ways in which one is American, qualities that make one something other than American, and the degree to which one feels American. Results suggested many similarities, along with some differences, across ethnic groups. In terms of how American one feels, ethnic minorities felt less American than Whites and believed that, regardless of their citizenship, they are not perceived as American. Responses suggested that participants believed that to be American, one must sacrifice a connection to family and community. Continuing to examine the relationship between national, ethnic, and personal identity will help us better understand how emerging adults make sense of their social world and manage difficult choices about their identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-349
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

Keywords

  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • National identity
  • Personal identity
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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