Changes in Ethnic Identity and Competence in Middle Adolescents

Lynn Rew, Kristopher L. Arheart, Karen Johnson, Micajah Spoden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Evidence suggests that the construct of ethnic identity (EI) in adolescents changes over time and is related to factors including social connectedness, social competence, coping, and self-worth. Transitional changes of EI in middle adolescence have not been studied. Method: This analysis, part of a longitudinal study of health behaviors, explored how EI changes from the first year of high school to the last, and it examined relationships among EI, social connectedness, indicators of social competence, coping, and self-worth in 602 youth (49% Hispanic, 59% female). Results: EI was significantly related to social connectedness, social competence, coping, and self-worth as adolescents entered and prepared to exit high school. EI increased significantly over time for both genders and for Hispanics more so than for non-Hispanics. Discussion: Findings support and extend the conceptual framework and previous research. Socialization with one's ethnic group is associated with developing competence and self-worth. EI development continues throughout high school. Conclusion: Findings extend our understanding of the salience of EI in adolescents in transition throughout high school. Implications: Strengthening EI may contribute to adolescents’ feelings of self-worth, skills in coping, and competence within an ethnically diverse society. Nurses might plan interventions to strengthen EI throughout adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Transcultural Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hispanic
  • adolescents
  • community health
  • correlational design
  • non-Hispanic
  • transcultural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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