Ethnic-racial identity (ERI) is a psychological construct that reflects the beliefs and attitudes that individuals have about their ethnic-racial group memberships, as well as the processes by which these beliefs and attitudes develop over time. Studies with adolescents show that aspects of ERI have protective effects on academic achievement and mental health in ethnic minority youth and adults.

Unfortunately, there is little knowledge about ERI before adolescence, despite evidence that it begins to develop as early as age 2 or 3 years. Because human development proceeds as a function of the continuous, ongoing, and dynamic interplay of environmental and individual factors across the lifespan, the study of ERI must be based on a cohesive and holistic view of development from early childhood into adulthood. To capitalize on the positive effects observed in studies with adolescents, a better understanding of ERI across ages is needed so that psychologists can effectively develop and implement prevention and intervention programs to promote healthy development in diverse children, youth, and adults.

This project will allow The University of Texas at Austin to host a two-day workshop that will bring together an interdisciplinary team of scholars to develop a lifespan conceptual model of ethnic-racial identity.

To address the research aims of this project, the scholars involved in this workshop will conduct a critical analysis of ERI in early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence to establish when different components of ERI emerge, and to examine the processes through which these components emerge.  Specific workshop activities will include a systematic review of the scientific literature; an in-depth discussion of developmental theories relevant to identity development; and consensus-building regarding key developmental processes that guide ERI across developmental stages.

Collectively, these activities will serve to inform a lifespan conceptual model of ERI as a construct that develops throughout childhood and adolescence into adulthood.  This model can then serve as a foundation for future research on ERI.

Funding for this project was made possible (in part) by GRANT #: 1729711  from the National Science Foundation. The views expressed in written project materials or publications do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention by trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.