Developmental Interplay Between Ethnic, National, and Personal Identity in Immigrant Adolescents

S. Mastrotheodoros, Olga Kornienko, Adriana Umana-Taylor, Frosso Motti-Stefanidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Developing a personal identity is a core developmental task for all adolescents. Immigrant adolescents need to integrate the meaning that their belonging to their ethnic group and the receiving nation has for them into their personal identity. The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal interplay between personal, ethnic, and national identities of a middle school sample of immigrant youth (N = 765, Mage = 12.7 years, SD = 0.6 at T1; 46% girls) enroled in Greek schools. Data were collected in three waves with repeated measures. To test the link between these identities, two trivariate Cross-Lagged Panel Models were ran, one examining identity exploration and the other examining identity commitment. The results revealed robust within time positive links between ethnic, national and personal identities for both exploration and commitment at all three time-points. There was some evidence that ethnic and national identities were negatively linked longitudinally, and limited support for longitudinal associations between these domains and personal identity. Follow-up analyses suggest that these processes may be specific to second generation youth and that findings may differ by ethnic background. Finally, the findings that emerged are discussed with attention to the socio-political climate in the receiving nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126–1139
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Ethnic identity
  • Immigrant adolescent
  • Longitudinal
  • National identity
  • Personal identity


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