Ethnic Identity and Adaptation of Mexican American Youths in School Settings

Martha E. Bernal, Delia Saenz, George P. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The theoretical and research literature on school performance and attrition in Mexican American youths was reviewed in order to examine how their membership asAmericans of Mexican descent, and the social, cultural, and political contexts of their school settings, affect their psychological adaptation in schooL Traditional theoretical views about school achievement in ethnic minority youths were compared and contrastede It was concluded that the empirical research fails to differentiate among Hispanic groups in ways that could result in better predictions of dropout, and that prevailing theoretical views of underachievement have neither arrived at a theoretical synthesis nor explored the processes that lead to dropout. A social identity framework was proposed for achieving such a synthesis, and for promoting the understanding of ethnic and other social identity changes as mediators of the effects of environmental and individual variables on school achievement. Available theory and findings were reconceptualized in terms of social identity theory, and developmental issues were considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-154
Number of pages20
JournalHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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