On the developmental continuity /discontinuity of early adolescent patterns of racial identity salience: Relations with later identities and psychosocial adjustment

Anthony L Burrow, Florida International University


Given the significant amount of attention placed upon race within our society, racial identity long has been nominated as a meaningful influence upon human development (Cross, 1971; Sellers et al., 1998). Scholars investigating aspects of racial identity have largely pursued one of two lines of research: (a) describing factors and processes that contribute to the development of racial identities, or (b) empirically documenting associations between particular racial identities and key adjustment outcomes. However, few studies have integrated these two approaches to simultaneously evaluate developmental and related adjustment aspects of racial identity among minority youth. Consequently, relations between early racial identity developmental processes and correlated adjustment outcomes remain ambiguous. Even less is known regarding the direction and function of these relationships during adolescence. To address this gap, the present study examined key multivariate associations between (a) distinct profiles of racial identity salience and (b) adjustment outcomes within a community sample of African-American youth. Specifically, a person-centered analytic approach (i.e., cluster analysis) was employed to conduct a secondary analysis of two archived databases containing longitudinal data measuring levels of racial identity salience and indices of psychosocial adjustment among youth at four different measurement occasions. Four separate groups of analyses were conducted to investigate (a) the existence of within-group differences in levels of racial identity salience, (b) shifts among distinct racial identity types between contiguous times of measurement, (c) adjustment correlates of racial identity types at each time of measurement, and (d) predictive relations between racial identity clusters and adjustment outcomes, respectively. Results indicated significant heterogeneity in patterns of racial identity salience among these African-American youth as well as significant discontinuity in the patterns of shifts among identity profiles between contiguous measurement occasions. In addition, within developmental stages, levels of racial identity salience were associated with several adjustment outcomes, suggesting the protective value of high levels of endorsement or internalization of racial identity among the sampled youth. Collectively, these results illustrated the significance of racial identity salience as a meaningful developmental construct in the lives of African-American adolescents, the implications of which are discussed for racial identity and practice-related research literatures.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Burrow, Anthony L, "On the developmental continuity /discontinuity of early adolescent patterns of racial identity salience: Relations with later identities and psychosocial adjustment" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3169452.