African American Racial Identity Across the Lifespan: Identity Status, Identity Content, and Depressive Symptoms


  • Data collection for portions of this project was funded by a National Institute of Mental Health Grant (NIMH 5 R01 MH 061967-03) awarded to the third author. The first author was supported as a postdoctoral fellow with a National Science Foundation Grant (NSF SES-0409492) during the preparation of this article. The second author was also supported as a postdoctoral fellow with a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Training Grant (NIMH T32 MH 067555). We would like to acknowledge Tabbye Chavous, the RILS project, and the African American Family Project for assistance with and utilization of their data sources. We also thank the MIBI group for their feedback during the preparation of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Tiffany Yip, Department of Psychology, Fordham University, 332 Dealy Hall, Bronx, NY 10458. Electronic mail may be sent to


Cluster analytic methods were used to create 4 theorized ethnic identity statuses (achieved, foreclosed, moratorium, and diffused) among 940 African American adolescents (13–17 years old), college students (18–23 years old), and adults (27–78 years old). Evidence for the existence of 4 identity statuses was found across the 3 age groups. The distribution of individuals differed by age group, with the older participants disproportionately occupying the more mature statuses. Identity status was related to identity content such that achieved individuals reported higher levels of racial centrality and private regard. Finally, there was a significant interaction between developmental age group and identity status for depressive symptoms such that diffused college students reported higher symptoms than achieved college students. No status differences were found for the other 2 age groups.