Examining the role of physical appearance in Latino adolescents' ethnic identity

Melinda A. Gonzales-Backen, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Guided by ecological theory, the current study examined physical appearance as a moderator of the relation between familial ethnic socialization (FES) and ethnic identity among 167 Latino adolescents. Results indicated that FES was positively associated with ethnic identity exploration and resolution. Furthermore, as expected, physical appearance moderated the relation between FES and ethnic identity affirmation such that this relation was positive among adolescents who were rated as having a more Latino appearance, a less European appearance, and darker skin, and it was non-significant among adolescents with a less Latino appearance, a more European appearance, and lighter skin. Findings underscore the importance of considering within-group variation when studying ethnic identity. In addition, this study highlights the importance of examining ethnic identity as a multidimensional construct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Ethnic identity
  • Familial ethnic socialization
  • Latino adolescents
  • Physical appearance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Examining the role of physical appearance in Latino adolescents' ethnic identity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this