Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults: review of research

Psychol Bull. 1990 Nov;108(3):499-514. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.108.3.499.


Ethnic identity is central to the psychological functioning of members of ethnic and racial minority groups, but research on the topic is fragmentary and inconclusive. This article is a review of 70 studies of ethnic identity published in refereed journals since 1972. The author discusses the ways in which ethnic identity has been defined and conceptualized, the components that have been measured, and empirical findings. The task of understanding ethnic identity is complicated because the uniqueness that distinguishes each group makes it difficult to draw general conclusions. A focus on the common elements that apply across groups could lead to a better understanding of ethnic identity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Research
  • Social Identification*