Self and Group Racial/Ethnic Identification Among Emerging Adults

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Emerging Adulthood


Emerging adulthood is a time of active identity exploration. Exploration of racial and ethnic identity is common in college and formational for adulthood. In this study, I use data from Latino, Asian, and multiracial emerging adults to explore the complexities of racial/ethnic self-identification and group belonging. I find that—when allowed to differentiate between the race with which one most identifies and the racial group one most feels a part—respondents’ choices don’t always align along a single racial or ethnic identity. This is true for those who are connected to just one or multiple racial/ethnic groups through ancestry or adoption, highlighting how elements of racial/ethnic identification may diverge even for those with only one reported racial or ethnic heritage. I use responses to open-ended questions to understand the discrepancies in some students’ self-identification and identify the factors that contribute to these different constituent parts of their identity.