Concurrent and Longitudinal Effects of Ethnic Identityand Experiences of Discrimination on Psychosocial Adjustment of Navajo Adolescents

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In this study, we examined concurrent and longitudinal relations among Navajo adolescents' ethnic identity, experiences of discrimination, and psychosocial outcomes (i.e., self-esteem, substance use, and social functioning). At Time 1, 137 Navajo adolescents (67 male, 70 female), primarily in Grades 9 and 10, completed a written survey assessing ethnic identity, discrimination experiences, and a range of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Two years later, 92 participants completed the same survey again. Ethnic and cultural identification was assessed via the Multiethnic Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992) and the Orthogonal Cultural Identification Scale (OCIS; Oetting & Beauvais, 1990). At Time 1, MEIM Affirmation and Belonging, MEIM Exploration, and OCIS White American identification all demonstrated strong, positive associations with adaptive functioning for male and female adolescents, whereas discrimination experiences were linked to lower self-esteem and social functioning for male adolescents. By Time 2, fewer significant concurrent associations between ethnic identity and psychosocial functioning scores remained, and discrimination experiences emerged as the most consistent correlate of poorer psychosocial functioning for male adolescents. Controlling for Time 1 psychosocial functioning, relatively few direct effects of ethnic and cultural identification variables predicted psychosocial functioning longitudinally, but discrimination experiences demonstrated strong and consistent longitudinal links with boys' substance use. Finally, interaction effects assessing the moderating influence of ethnic and cultural identification on negative links between discrimination and psychosocial functioning suggested that embeddedness in and connection to Navajo culture and, in some cases, connection to White American culture, served as a buffer to the negative effects of discrimination experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)