Internalization of the Model Minority Myth, School Racial Composition, and Psychological Distress Among Asian American Adolescents

Annabelle L. Atkin, Hyung Yoo, Justin Jager, Christine J. Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The authors investigated the moderating effect of school racial composition in the relationship between internalization of the model minority myth and psychological distress among Asian American adolescents. The model minority myth is the stereotype of Asian Americans as more successful than other racial minority groups because of values emphasizing hard work, achievement, and belief in the "American dream" (Yoo, Burrola, & Steger, 2010). The following 2 aspects of this myth were assessed: the myth of achievement orientation (M-Achievement), the degree to which participants attribute Asian Americans' comparative success to achievement, and the myth of unrestricted mobility (M-Mobility), the degree to which participants believe Asian Americans have unrestricted upward mobility (Yoo et al., 2010). The sample included 367 Asian American adolescents (58% female, Mage = 16.33) attending two high schools-a predominantly Asian school on the West Coast and a predominantly non-Asian school in the Southwest. Data were analyzed using multiple group path analysis. Results indicated that Asian American adolescents in the predominantly non-Asian school were more likely to internalize the model minority myth than adolescents in the predominantly Asian school. Moreover, the school moderated the M-Mobility-psychological distress link. In summary, being in a predominantly Asian school was related to lower levels of internalization of the model minority myth. Furthermore, internalization of the myth of unrestricted mobility increased depression and anxiety for adolescents in the predominantly Asian school, whereas it decreased stress for adolescents living in the predominantly non-Asian school. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAsian American Journal of Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 4 2018



  • Asian American adolescent
  • Model minority
  • Psychological distress
  • Racial composition
  • School context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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