Ethnic identity in emerging adults in Sub‐Saharan Africa and the USA, and its associations with psychological well‐Being

Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Abstract: Ethnic identity as a social dimension of identity is argued to be developmentally important for psycho-logical well-being. However, the relationships between these constructs are mainly examined inWestern contexts, amongst dominant–non-dominant groups. We investigate ethnic identity acrossthe mainstream group of a prototypical Western society (the USA) and several multi-ethnic sub-Saharan African countries (Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia), as well as how it relatesto psychological well-being. A total of 1255 university students (61.8% females, Mage= 20.94 years,SD = 2.97) completed a questionnaire with ethnic identity and psychological well-being measures. Re-sults indicated that ethnic identity was most salient in two different South African ethnocultural sam-ples and least salient in a mainstream US sample. These results suggest that groups that are moreexposed to ethnic strain in multicultural societies tend to have more salient ethnic identities. Further-more, the underlying structure in the ethnic identity psychological well-being relationship was similaracross groups.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology