Valerie Burguess

Major and Classification

Cognitive Science

Faculty Mentor

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang


Educational Psychology and Technology

Research Gateway Project

“Sociocultural Factors Related to Identity Formation of Immigrant Adolescents”

Project Abstract

Adolescence is a period of life in which the sense of ‘self’ rapidly shifts and therefore it is pivotal for the development of the socially integrated self-concept. Current research has supported that during the time of adolescence, the development of the socially integrated self is associated with heightened self-consciousness and susceptibility to peer pressure (Sebastian et al., 2008). However, no study has investigated how the development of self-concept for first-generation immigrant adolescents may be unique. Sixty-three healthy adolescents (ages = 14-18 years; 34 females, 29 males) from East-Asian and Latino/a descent reported their bicultural identification in the Bicultural Integration Index survey and an acculturation survey. Participants were asked to describe their ‘true selves’ which researchers prompted participants to take an introspective view of their looking glass self to describe themselves objectively. These measures were then compared as a function of socioeconomic variation using the participants free/reduced school lunch status. Individuals with higher reporting of interdependent cultural measures of bicultural harmony report having more prosocial behavioral patterns than participants with more independent cultural measures. There is not a significant relationship between lower SES participants and frequent references to others in testing self-concept which does not support previous research that has found greater emphasis on community members and environment as factors which influence the development of self-concept amongst low SES individuals. The current research results provide evidence supporting the integral role that cultural identity plays in identity formation of adolescents, and there are further areas of research to investigate educational intervention efforts to support healthy identity formation for bicultural immigrant adolescents.