Multiple identities of Jewish immigrant adolescents from the former Soviet Union: An exploration of salience and impact of ethnic identity

Dina Birman, Irena Persky, Yi Chan Wing Yi Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The current paper explores the salience and impact of ethnic and national identities for immigrants that are negotiating more than two cultures. Specifically, we were interested in the ways in which Jewish immigrant adolescents from the former Soviet Union integrate their Russian, Jewish, and American identities, and to what extent identification with these three cultures predicts adaptation to varied life domains. In order to examine whether being Jewish has an impact on salience and predictive value of Russian and American identities, a sample of Jewish adolescents (n = 100) was compared with a sample of non-Jewish (n = 113) adolescent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The study suggests that Jewish and non-Jewish adolescent immigrants differ in levels of Russian and American identity. Further, using structural equation modeling a bicultural model for Jewish and non-Jewish adolescents was tested. The results suggest that these two groups do not differ with respect to how Russian and American identities impact on adjustment. However, adding Jewish identity to the model for the Jewish sample significantly improved model fit, and rendered some of the impact of Russian identity non-significant. Thus a multicultural model that included all three identities had better explanatory power for this sample than a bicultural one. Implications for the study of ethnic identity of immigrants, particularly those whose lives involve multiple cultural affiliations, are drawn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Cross-cultural developmental psychology
  • Ethnic origin
  • Identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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