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How is social identity related to psychological well-being among minority individuals? Drawing on developmental models of identity formation (e.g., Erikson, 1968) and on Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), we tested a conceptual model examining links between two key aspects of social identity and psychological well-being. We proposed that the association between identity achievement (exploring and understanding the meaning of one's identity) and psychological well-being is mediated by identity affirmation (developing positive feelings and a sense of belonging to one's social group). Across three studies, including ethnic minority high school students (Study 1), ethnic minority college students (Study 2) and lesbian and gay male adults (Study 3), we found strong support for the model. Results suggest that the process of exploring and understanding one's minority identity can serve as an important basis for developing positive feelings toward and an enhanced sense of attachment to the group, which can in turn confer psychological benefits for minority individuals. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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Ghavami N, Fingerhut A, Peplau LA, Grant SK, Wittig MA. Testing a model of minority identity achievement, identity affirmation, and psychological well-being among ethnic minority and sexual minority individuals. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2011 Jan;17(1):79-88. doi: 10.1037/a0022532. PMID: 21341900; PMCID: PMC3158128.