• Ethnic identity and counterfactual thinking

      Pandit-Kerr, Sphoorti A. (2018-05)
      Ethnicity is an important component of many people's identities and ethnic identity is socialized from one generation to another through families, communities, and the wider cultural ecosystem (Browne, 2013; Ashmore et al., 2004). Research suggests that having a strong sense of ethnic identity often helps individuals experience a sense of belonging and acceptance which contributes to well-being (e.g., Umãna-Taylor & Updegraff, 2007). This study examined how and to what degree individuals believe that their ethnic identities have contributed to their current lives. Participants were asked to construct counterfactual lists describing how their lives would be different if they did not have their ethnic identities. This new methodology utilized counterfactual thinking, the process by which people create mental representations of alternatives to past events, states or actions (Byrne 2007), to better understand the relationship between strength of ethnic identity and life satisfaction. A total of 145 participants with mean age of 21.87 years (SD = 3.77) living in the United States and India completed the study online. As expected, correlational analyses revealed a positive relationship between life satisfaction and strength of ethnic identity (r = .23, p = .02). Using an inductive content analysis of the emergent themes, the coding revealed that participants believe that their ethnic identities influence their educational and career choices, relationships with family, friends and significant others, diet/cuisine, health, and their personal characteristics including likes and dislikes. These findings are discussed in the context of the larger ethnic identity literature.