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Ethnic identity and psychological well-being among youth in residential treatment: Exploring links with school success and psychological distress

Robin Rae Bauer Sobansky, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite evidence that ethnic identity development is a salient task in adolescence, the issue has not been examined among youth in residential care. This study examined the relationship between ethnic identity and psychological well-being in adolescents in a residential treatment program. More specifically, this study investigated whether ethnic identity was related to psychological adaptation and academic functioning among White and non-White adolescents in this setting. A chief interest of the study concerned the construct of developmental competence and adaptation and the theoretical notion that a strong ethnic identity might be significantly related to the absence of psychological distress and the presence of school competence among this unique population. Using surveys and archival records, data were collected and analyzed from 107 students (White = 49, non-White = 58) who attended high school in a residential treatment program. Results of the multiple regressions did not support the hypotheses that a strong ethnic identity, assessed by the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992) was positively related to school success and negatively related to psychological distress. Psychological distress was measured by the 10-item Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC-10; March, 1997) and the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI; Kovacs, 1987). School success was measured by (a) school performance, as indicated by individual achievement test scores and cumulative high school grade point average; (b) future educational plans; and (c) involvement in extracurricular activities. Significant differences were found in ethnic identity between White and non-White participants. African American and other ethnically diverse adolescents had significantly higher scores on the MEIM than did the White youth. Significant age and gender differences were found for psychological distress and academic success as well. Results suggest there is a need for future studies to continue the line of research presented in this study. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Sobansky, Robin Rae Bauer, "Ethnic identity and psychological well-being among youth in residential treatment: Exploring links with school success and psychological distress" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3116609.