A comparative study of African American and European American ethnic identity

Linda Kathryn Larkey, Michael L. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Differences between African Americans and European Americans were examined to find how ethnic identity salience was enacted in interethnic conversations, A sample of 126 African Americans and 78 European Americans was recruited from the community using a snowball sampling method. First, different factor structures for the two groups indicated that African Americans conceptualize sociocultural and political identity as separate constructs while European Americans express a singular and social definition of ethnic identity and experience less identity salience than African Americans. Secondly, although our sample is small, those who used the label "African American" expressed greater political ethnic identity salience than those who used the label "Black". This finding is consistent with others' research indicating a continuing trend toward a positive political posture for African Americans. Third, ethnic identity was found to be negatively related to interethnic communication satisfaction for European Americans. Stronger European American ethnic identity was related to less satisfying interethnic conversational outcomes in less intimate relationships. Ethnic identity salience showed no significant relationship to interethnic conversational outcomes for European Americans communicating with friends nor for African Americans no matter the relational distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-504
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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