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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2009 Apr;15(2):145-57. doi: 10.1037/a0015538.

A developmental perspective of the relationship of racial-ethnic identity to self-construct, achievement, and behavior in African American children.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


This longitudinal study examines the development of racial-ethnic identity among African American children. Racial preferences were assessed in early elementary school with the Racial Attitudes, Beliefs, and Stereotypes Measure-II, a projective technique using paired comparisons of pictures of African American, Asian, Latino, and Caucasian children. Racial-ethnic identity in 3rd grade was assessed using the Multi-Ethnic Identity Measure Ethnic Belonging subscale. Multilevel models indicated that own-group racial preferences increased with age. Second-grade own-group preferences were positively related to 3rd-grade racial-ethnic identity scores. Third-grade racial-ethnic identity was associated positively with self-esteem variables (scholastic, social, physical appearance, and behavioral) and with academic performance. Identity correlated negatively with parent-rated aggression and externalizing and internalizing behaviors. The findings suggest that children's racial-ethnic identity develops differentially by gender, with girls showing faster growth but lower initial ethnic identity. Racial-ethnic identity was shown to be modestly but statistically significantly associated with various important child outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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