Ethnic Identity Development in Minority Adolescents
Jean S. Phinney
Ethnic identity is a sense of belonging or attachment to one's ethnic group and the feelings that accompany that sense of belonging. During adolescence, identity issues become important as young people move toward adulthood and begin to make decisions about the kind of person they will be in the future. For members of ethnic minority groups, ethnicity is a central aspect of their identities (Phinney, 1990). An ethnic identity develops through a process similar to the formation of an ego identity, as described by Erik Erikson and studied empirically initially by James Marcia (1994). The formation of an ethnic identity occurs typically during adolescence and young adulthood, but it may occur later in life, depending on the context. In early childhood, children who are exposed to diverse ethnic groups learn the names of their ethnic groups and some of their distinguishing characteristics, such as food, customs, and language. During early ...