The Roles of Ethnic Identity and Metastereotype Awareness in the Racial Discrimination-Psychological Adjustment Link for Asian Americans at Predominantly White Universities

Annabelle L. Atkin, Alisia G.T.T. Tran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: The literature on Asian Americans yields mixed findings regarding the protective effects of ethnic identity on the racial discrimination-psychological distress link (Park, Schwartz, Lee, Kim, & Rodriguez, 2013). This study introduces metastereotype awareness (MSA; the awareness one has regarding stereotypes others hold of their group) into this relationship, focusing on the stereotype of Asians as unsociable. Method: We examined a 3-way interaction between racial discrimination, ethnic identity commitment, and MSA on a latent psychological distress variable among a sample of Asian American emerging adults attending predominantly White universities (N = 276, 60% female, mean age = 20). Results: Structural equation modeling suggested a significant 3-way interaction in which the protective role of ethnic identity commitment varied depending on the level of MSA. Specifically, high levels of ethnic identity commitment buffered the racial discrimination-psychological distress link for individuals reporting high levels of MSA. Furthermore, low levels of ethnic identity commitment buffered the discrimination-psychological distress link for Asian American students reporting low levels of MSA. In contrast, a positive link between discrimination and psychological distress persisted for Asian American students reporting a combination of high ethnic identity and low MSA and vice versa. Conclusion: In summary, Asian American college students who had high levels of both ethnic identity commitment and MSA or low levels on both variables were protected from psychological distress associated with racial discrimination. These findings illuminate the nuanced relationship between racial discrimination, ethnic identity commitment, and MSA in predicting psychological distress outcomes for Asian Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

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Keywords

  • Asian American
  • Ethnic identity
  • Psychological distress
  • Racial discrimination
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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