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Inter-ethnic Contact and Ethnic Identity Among Chinese American Children and Adolescents

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Asian Americans constitute the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States (Hoeffel, Rastogi, Kim, & Hasan, 2012). Yet, they are infrequently examined within the context of investigations of inter-ethnic peer relationships. Even though the field has begun to evolve out of its traditionally exclusive focus on friendships among Black and White American students (e.g., Hallinan & Smith, 1985), researchers often continue to rely on potentially reductive pan-ethnic racial categories (e.g., Asian) for groups that are quite ethnically heterogeneous. More work is needed to draw strong conclusions about identity development, inter-ethnic relationships, and acculturation among individual sub-racial ethnic groups in the American context.
The present study aimed to help fill these gaps by drawing upon data collected from a sample of Chinese American children and adolescents. The study had three aims: a) to examine the relationship between co-ethnic friendship and ethnic identity; b) to examine the relationship between co-ethnic friendship and peer relationship quality; c) to examine the relationship between acculturation and perceived racial discrimination. We hypothesized that a child/adolescent’s number of and frequency of contact with co-ethnic friends would be positively associated with both the strength of that individual’s attachment to his/her ethnic identity as well as the quality of his/her peer relationships. Furthermore, we hypothesized the number of and frequency of contact with co-ethnic friends among participants’ parents would moderate the aforementioned associations. Finally, we predicted a negative relationship between a child/adolescent’s degree of acculturation and amount of perceived racial discrimination.
The sample came from a 10-year longitudinal study of childhood and adolescence among children from Chinese American immigrant families (N = 258, 52.9% boys, 23.6% foreign born). Over the course of the 10-year period, data were collected from children and parents in three waves: Wave 1 (age = 5.8-9.1 years), Wave 2 (age = 7.5-11.0 years), Wave 3 (age 15-17.9 years). 95% and 69.9% of the original sample was retained at Waves 2 and 3 respectively. Data analyzed in the present study were collected during Waves 2 and 3. Ethnic identity was assessed using participant ratings on the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure – Revised (Phinney & Ong, 2007). The Inventory of Peer Attachment (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987) was used to assess adolescent friendship quality. Perceived racial discrimination was assessed using a 3-item scale asking participants about unfair treatment they may have experienced due to their Asian racial identity (Gil & Vega, 1996; Juang & Cookston, 2009). Participant ratings on the Culture and Social Acculturation Scale (Chen & Lee, 1996; Chen & Lee, 2010) were used to assess quantity of inter-ethnic friends, quantity of co-ethnic friends, frequency of interaction with said inter-ethnic / co-ethnic friends, and acculturation more broadly.
Analyses will be conducted to test the hypothesized associations at Waves 2 and 3 as well as across the two time points. Strengths of the study include its longitudinal design and its focus on socioeconomically diverse children from an individual sub-racial ethnic group (i.e., Chinese Americans).

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