Integrating Racial and Ethnic Identity Research Into Developmental Understanding of Adolescents


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joanna Lee Williams, Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Policy, 405 Emmet Street South, Box 400277, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4277; e-mail:


This article calls for a fuller integration of racial and ethnic identity (REI) as a fundamental topic of developmental research. Reviewing common, youth-focused models of REI, it suggests the need for understanding the underlying assumptions of each when undertaking research in this domain. It then proposes that youth development research will be enhanced by further testing of the relation of REI to developmental progress in other dimensions of youth's identity and by developmentally conceptualized testing that incorporates social-ecological perspectives. Relevant findings from studies of adolescents are used throughout to support these contentions. The article argues that new directions can promote the integration of REI research into the mainstream and inform the supports that bolster resilience for youth.