Ego and ethnic identity development in Filipino adolescents: An Asian perspective

Alma Villegas Schwalbenberg, Fordham University


Erikson's psychosocial developmental theory postulates that achievement of ego identity is the primary task during adolescence. However, examination of culture and ethnicity in the empirical work based on Erikson's theory has been limited. Alternative perspectives from non-western experiences, taking into account Asian experiences, are important in assuring a more universal psychology. The study examined the correlates of the processes of ego identity development: ethnic identity, Westernization and perceived family functioning. The study also investigated the predictive relationship of the aforementioned variables and the Filipino adolescent's self-esteem. Subjects of the study were 263 college students from Ateneo de Manila University (112 female and 151 males). Instruments used were the Ego Identity Process Questionnaire, Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales III, the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure, the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale (modified to measure the levels of Westernization in the Filipino), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. Correlational analyses demonstrated that family cohesion was positively related to ego identity commitment, ethnic identity achievement, and self-esteem. Ethnic identity was found to be positively correlated with ego identity commitment and self-esteem. For males, family cohesion was positively correlated with ethnic identity achievement. On the other hand, family adaptability was positively correlated with self-esteem in females. A 2 x 2 (Sex by Group) ANOVA showed that the effect of Westernization was significant with Filipino-identified subjects (low in Westernization) having higher ethnic identity achievement than bicultural subjects. Regression analyses indicated that ego identity commitment and family cohesion significantly predict self-esteem in the Filipino adolescent. For females, self-esteem was predicted by ego identity commitment, family adaptability and ethnic identity achievement. For males, self-esteem was predicted by ego identity commitment and family cohesion. Conclusions were made on the role of ethnic identity as a possible theoretical link between Marcia's intrapersonal and individual concept of ego identity, and Enriquez' more interpersonal and collective concept of kapwa or shared identity.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Schwalbenberg, Alma Villegas, "Ego and ethnic identity development in Filipino adolescents: An Asian perspective" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9324632.