Perpetual foreigner in one's ow n land: Potential implications for identity and psychological adjustment

Que Lam Huynh, Thierry Devos, Laura Smalarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

The perpetual foreigner stereotype posits that members of ethnic minorities will always be seen as the "other" in the White Anglo-Saxon dominant society of the United States (Devos & Banaji, 2005), which may have negative implications for them. The goal of the present research was to determine whether awareness of this perpetual foreigner stereotype predicts identity and psychological adjustment. We conducted a series of studies with 231 Asian Americans and 211 Latino/ as (Study 1), 89 African Americans (Study 2), and 56 Asian Americans and 165 Latino/as (Study 3). All participants completed measures of perceived discrimination, awareness of the perpetual foreigner stereotype, conflict between ethnic and national identities, sense of belonging to American culture, and demographics. In Study 3, participants also completed measures of psychological adjustment: depression, hope, and life satisfaction. All participants were students at a large, public university on the West Coast of the United States. Across studies, we found that even after controlling for perceived discrimination, awareness of the perpetual foreigner stereotype was a significant predictor of identity conflict and lower sense of belonging to American culture. From Study 3, we also found that, above and beyond perceived discrimination, awareness of the perpetual foreigner stereotype significantly predicted lower hope and life satisfaction for Asian Americans, and that it was a marginal predictor of greater depression for Latino/as. These results suggest that the perpetual foreigner stereotype may play a role in ethnic minority identity and adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-162
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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