Adolescents’ ethnic-racial centrality moderates effect of school-based intervention on ethnic-racial identity exploration.

Kristia A. Wantchekon, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Michael R. Sladek, Elana R. McDermott, Kimberly A. Updegraff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research suggests that the process of adolescents exploring and developing clarity about their ethnic-racial identity (ERI) is an important developmental competency. However, the extent to which individuals view their ERI as central to their overall self-concept (i.e., ERI centrality) informs the degree to which they choose to explore their ERI, potentially moderating ERI development. Utilizing data from a randomized controlled trial of a school-based intervention focused on increasing adolescents’ ERI exploration, the current study examined whether the intervention effect was moderated by adolescents’ baseline ERI centrality. Study participants (N = 218; Mage = 15.02; 49% female; 63% ethnic-racial minority; 28% free/reduced lunch) attended a high school in the southwest United States. Moderation analyses indicated that adolescents’ ERI centrality at baseline (1-week pretest) significantly moderated the intervention's effect on Time-2 ERI exploration (12-week posttest). Further analyses of simple slopes revealed that the intervention produced significant increases in Time-2 ERI exploration (relative to attention control) for adolescents with average and higher (+1 SD) levels of ERI centrality at baseline, but not for those with lower levels of ERI centrality at baseline (−1 SD), which suggests ERI centrality may have encouraged participant engagement with the intervention. Sensitivity analyses accounting for baseline to posttest changes in ERI exploration and examining long-term effects of the intervention on exploration provided additional support for the specificity of this moderated intervention effect to the 12-week posttest. Our findings are consistent with notions from social identity theory as well as previous research that suggests that ERI centrality encourages ERI exploration among adolescents. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-442
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • adolescents
  • centrality
  • ethnic-racial identity
  • intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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