Racial and ethnic identity: Their relationship and their contribution to self-esteem

Renee Goodstein, Fordham University


This study explored the relationships between racial identity, ethnic identity, and self-esteem among Black and White people. In addition, this study examined the relationships between racial identity, ethnic identity, and other-group orientation. Subjects consisted of 418 students (126 Black and 292 White) from two private universities and a public university in the New York City metropolitan area. Results of Pearson product-moment correlations for Blacks revealed that those holding anti-Black/pro-White attitudes showed low ethnic-group attachment, while those having an internalized sense of Blackness showed higher ethnic attachment levels. Among Whites, the results showed no relationship between ethnic and racial group affiliations; however, a significant relationship was found between every level of racial identity development and other-group orientation. In order to examine the relationships among the reference group orientation (RGO) variables (i.e., racial identity and ethnic identity) and self-esteem, several Pearson product-moment correlations and simultaneous multiple regressions were conducted. The results for Blacks indicated that racial and ethnic identity predict a significant proportion of the variability in self-esteem, with Internalization being the most robust predictor. The results for Whites indicated that none of the racial identity scales contribute to the variance in self-esteem, but that ethnic identity does offer a slight explanation of variance. Two distinct orientations to multicultural work--termed "V-REG" and "Salience"--were introduced and defended as theoretical bases for exploring relationships among the variables included in this investigation. Implications for counseling and future research were discussed in relation to these orientations towards multicultural research and practice.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Goodstein, Renee, "Racial and ethnic identity: Their relationship and their contribution to self-esteem" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530950.