Low Ethnic Identity Exploration Undermines Positive Interethnic Relations: A Study Among Turkish Immigrant-Origin Youth

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Objective: This longitudinal study investigates whether immigrant-origin youths’ ethnic identity exploration moderates the link between ethnic identity commitment and positive interethnic relations, operationalized as cross-ethnic friendships. Method: Turkish-German 4th graders (9–12 years old, n = 73) and 7th graders (13–15 years old, n = 67) reported on their cross-ethnic friendships at Time 1 and approximately 10 months later at Time 2. Commitment and exploration were measured at Time 1 with age appropriate versions of the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure. Results: About 40% of the children’s friendships were cross-ethnic and the amount of cross-ethnic friendships did not change from Time 1 to Time 2. Ethnic identity commitment and exploration were unrelated to cross-ethnic friendships in both age groups. Yet, among the 7th graders, exploration moderated the link between commitment and cross-ethnic friendships: when exploration was low, a higher level of commitment was associated with fewer cross-ethnic friendships. These associations were not significant among 4th-grade children. Conclusion: We conclude that by the age of 13 years, ethnic identity exploration can improve interethnic relations.

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