Methods. Participants were Yi youths being sponsored by the non-profit organization for schooling in Liangshan(n=584; age=11-19; Female=73.4%). A higher percentage of female students was found because the organization was inclined to sponsored female students. A cross-sectional quantitative design was implemented using data collected in the year 2018. GSE was measured by the 10-item General Self-Efficacy Scale (α= 0.76; Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995). Predictors were: Ethnic identity-exploration and ethnic identity-commitment (Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure;α= 0.92; Phinney,1992), and perceived classmate support (Classmate Support Scale;α= 0.78; Torsheim,2000). Control variables were: Having both parents alive, gender and age. Structural equation modelling was employed using Mplus 8.0. A measurement model with the latent variables of GSE, ethnic identity-exploration, ethnic identity-commitment and classmate support were tested. For the SEM, we tested the direct effects of ethnic identity-exploration, ethnic identity-commitment and classmate support on GSE. Effects of classmate support on ethnic identity were examined. The mediating effects of ethnic identity-exploration and ethnic identity-commitment were tested with the bootstrapping technique. Errors of the control variables were correlated.
Results: Initial measurement model fit statistics were :X²=313.50, p<.05; CFI/TLI=0.96/0.95; RMSEA=0.03; SRMR=0.04. For the SEM, fit statistics were: X²=492.75, p<.05; CFI/TLI=0.93;0.91; RMSEA=0.04; SRMR=0.04. Ethnic identity-exploration had a direct effect on GSE (b=0.96), but ethnic identity-commitment and classmate support did not. Additional pathways showed that classmate support had direct effects on ethnic identity-exploration (b=0.18) and ethnic identity-commitment (b=0.27). Ethnic identity-exploration mediated the effect of classmate support on GSE (b=0.22), but not ethnic identity-commitment.
Conclusions and Implications: Ethnic identity-exploration mediates the effect of classmate support on GSE. Results underscore the importance of ethnic identity-exploration in the psychological well-being of Yi children: A willingness to explore their ethnicity can serve as a cultural resource for positive psychological outcomes. Additional research is needed to understand why ethnic-identity commitment is not a mediator. School management can cultivate school social environments that promote ethnic identity-exploration and GSE. Local government can consider celebrating ethnicity to narrow racial disparities in psychological health in rural China.