Ethnic Identity as a Moderator Against Discrimination for Transracially and Transnationally Adopted Korean American Adolescents


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Abstract

Despite the growing practice of international adoption over the past 60 years, the racial and ethnic experiences of adopted youth are not well known. This study examined the moderating role of ethnic identity in the association between racial/ethnic discrimination and adjustment among transracially, transnationally adopted Korean American adolescents (n = 136). Building on self-categorization theory and past empirical research on Asian Americans, it was hypothesized that ethnic identity would exacerbate negative outcomes associated with discrimination. The moderating role of ethnic identity was found to vary by specific ethnic identity dimensions. For individuals with more pride in their ethnic group (affective dimension of ethnic identity), discrimination was positively associated with externalizing problems. For individuals with greater engagement with their ethnic group (behavioral dimension of ethnic identity), discrimination was positively associated with substance use. By contrast, clarity regarding the meaning and importance of one’s ethnic group (cognitive dimension of ethnic identity) did not moderate the relationship between discrimination and negative outcomes.

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