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Exploring the linkage between Ethnic Identity, Self-Concept, and Aggression Terez L. Turner Andrew Martinez Jamilia J. Blake, Ph.D. Texas A&M University.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring the linkage between Ethnic Identity, Self-Concept, and Aggression Terez L. Turner Andrew Martinez Jamilia J. Blake, Ph.D. Texas A&M University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring the linkage between Ethnic Identity, Self-Concept, and Aggression Terez L. Turner Andrew Martinez Jamilia J. Blake, Ph.D. Texas A&M University

2 Abstract This study represents an attempt to examine the relationship between ethnic identity and aggression, as well as, the influence that self-concept has on this relationship. Findings suggest that ethnic identity predicted overt aggression and relational aggression. Self-concept did not appear to mediate the relationship between ethnic identity and aggression. This study suggests that ethnic identity is an important aspect of development and should be considered as an essential component in preventive interventions.

3 Aggression Studies have found that AA and Hispanic youth are at greater risk for exhibiting aggressive behavior (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004; Fitzpatrick & LaGrory, 2000). – AA and Hispanic youth are more likely to be involved in physical and verbal altercations than their same-age peers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). – AA girls have also been found to be more relationally aggressive than European American girls (Putallaz et al., 2007)

4 Aggression & Self-Esteem To date, the relationship between self-esteem and aggression remains an area of contention. – Whereas some researchers argue that individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in externalizing behaviors (Donnellan et al., 2005), others argue that there is no relationship between self-esteem and aggression. – Specifically, Baumeister and colleagues (2000) found that aggressive individuals have relatively high self-regard

5 Ethnic Identity One explanation for the divergent findings for may be explained by the concept of ethnic identity, especially for children from ethnic minority populations. Ethnic identity has been recognized as an important factor in child development. Ethnic identity refers to ones sense of belonging to an ethnic group (Rotheram & Phinney, 1987).

6 Ethnic Identity Some describe ethnic identity as a multi-dimensional construct especially for AA in which ethnic identity includes connectedness to ones ethnic group, but also a recognition of minority status as a result of being a member of a particular ethnic group (e.g., alertness to racism) obligation to ethnic group to succeed (e.g., embedded achievement; Oyersman, Gant, & Ager, 1995 )

7 Ethnic Identity & Self-Esteem Ethnic identity has been more frequently studied in relation to self-esteem. A stronger sense of ethnic identity among AA youth has been found to be associated with higher self-esteem and self-confidence (Martinez & Dukes, 1997).

8 Individuals with a stronger sense of ethnic identity tend to have higher self-esteem and better psychological outcomes (Roberts et al., 1999). – This suggests that having a strong ethnic identity may serve as a protective factor in youth, especially for ethnic minority youth. Ethnic Identity & Self-Esteem

9 Linkage between Aggression & Self-Concept Self-concept is the cognitive evaluation of ones abilities or traits (Salmivalli, 2001). Since positive self-concept is positively associated with high self-esteem (Farmer et al., 2001), it might also be important to examine the relation between childrens aggression, ethnic identity and self- concept It is therefore possible that a negative self- concept, could be associated with increased aggression.

10 Present Study There is little research which has thoroughly explored the potential links between ethnic identity, self- concept, and aggression in ethnic minority populations. The purpose of this study is to bridge this gap in the literature. Specifically, we are interested in: exploring whether ethnic identity predicts aggression examining the influence that self-concept may have on the relationship between ethnic identity and aggression Given elevated rates of aggression observed in AA and Hispanic students, particularly males, Hispanic and AA students were the focus of this investigation.

11 Methods: Sample 289 5th and 6th grade students from Southwestern United States Sample was predominately Hispanic: – 70% Hispanic students – 20% African American – 10% Other (European American, Asian, Biracial) – 59% female – 5

12 Methods: Measures Self-report: – Racial-Ethnic Identity (REI; Oyersman, Gant, & Ager, 1995) Consist of three aspects of racial-ethnic identity – Embedded Achievement; Connectedness; Awareness of Racism – Total score ( α =.702) A modified version was developed for use with Hispanic students. – Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale, 2 nd edition (Piers & Herzberg, 2002) Used to assess self-reported adjustment – Aggression Youth rated the extent to which they engaged in physical, relational, and verbal aggression

13 Analyses/Results Question 1: Does ethnic identity predict aggression? – Linear Regression to examine if REI total predicts overt and relational aggression – Only REI total RegressionF (1,287)pβη2η2 DV: Overt aggression IV:REI total DV: Relational aggression IV:REI total

14 Analyses/Results Question 2: Is the relation between ethnic identity and aggression mediated by self-concept? Mediation Effects – Results indicated that self concept did not a significantly mediate the relationship between REI total and aggression -.195*** -.172***.158***.06 Overt Aggression Relational Aggression PH Total.121** REI Total ** significant at p <.05, *** significant at p <.01

15 Summary Our findings suggests that youth with higher ethnic identity engage in more aggressive behaviors than youth with a lower ethnic identity However, in contrast to our hypothesis, this relationship was not mediated by self- concept Although not the focus of our study, we found that self-concept was negatively related to aggression

16 Strengths and Limitations Prior research has only focused on the relation between aggression and self-esteem Our findings suggest that self-concept may also be related to aggression and therefore, provide a useful measure for assessing the relation between childrens externalizing behavior and self-competence Previous studies have yielded conflicting findings regarding the extent to which having a low ethnic identity poses significant risk for engaging in aggressive behavior Our findings seem to suggest that having a stronger ethnic identity is related to increased aggression, which is in contrast to our hypothesis that ethnic identity may serve as a protective factor for externalizing behaviors

17 Strengths and Limitations It is possible that our findings are due to the measure we selected to assess ethnic identity We adapted an ethnic identity measure developed for AAs for administration to students of various ethnic racial backgrounds Given that our sample was predominately Hispanic, it is possible that the measure of ethnic identity we used did not have the same meaning for Hispanics as it did for AA Unfortunately, due to the small number of AA included in our sample we were not able to test this hypothesis Alternatively, the mean age for our sample was years; it is possible that the students included in the sample may not have an adequate understanding of their racial/ethnic identity

18 Future Investigations Future studies should examine how multiple dimensions of ethnic identity contribute to childrens use of aggression Drawing from research on racial socialization practices, in which some racial socialization practices, result in more positive outcomes in children than other, it is possible that different components of ethnic identity differentially predict childrens use of aggression Future studies should explore other factors that could mediate the relationship between ethnic identity and aggression in minority youth.


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