Psychological Adjustment, Behavior and Health Problems in Multiracial Young Adults

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Kelley, Warren
Hoffman, Mary Ann
This study: (1) examined whether multiracial young adults reported lower levels of well-being relative to their White and monoracial minority peers and whether these outcomes were moderated by college attendance or racial identification; and (2) investigated factors, drawn from Root=s (2003) ecological model of multiracial identity development, during adolescence that could predict better well-being outcomes for young adults. Participants were 18-26 years old and drawn from the Wave III archival data of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Bearman, Jones, & Udry, 1997), a nationally representative school-based probability sample of participants initially surveyed in 1994-1995, with the Wave III follow-up conducted six years later in 2001-2002. Using a subset of 14,644 participants (615 multiracial, 4,686 monoracial minority, and 9,343 White) the multiracial young adults reported statistically higher levels of depression, drug abuse and physical limitations, and lower levels of self worth than their monoracial counterparts. Effect sizes (partial eta squared), however, were so small, varying between .001 and .003, that these statistical findings did not represent meaningful differences. Therefore, the current study found evidence of fewer difficulties of multiracial young adults relative to their monoracial peers, when compared to previous researchers who studied the same sample as adolescents and found consistent patterns of negative well-being (Milan & Keiley, 2000; Udry et al., 2003). In part this may be because previous researchers did not present effect sizes. Using a second subset of 8,978 participants (402 multiracial, 2,617 monoracial minority, and 5,959 White) a two phased, multi-group structural equation model examined the relationship between adolescence and young adulthood factors and found that multiracial participants had the highest path coefficients for depression and living with both biological parents in comparison to their monoracial counterparts. College attendance was found to not change the relationship of multiracial young adults on reported well-being outcomes in comparison to their monoracial counterparts. In the area of multiracial identification, there was no evidence that multiracial young adults who reported their racial category as multiracial versus monoracial exhibited higher well-being outcomes. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.