Racial Stereotypes, Identity, and Identity Denial among East Asian Canadians
Tak Kuan Lou, Evelina
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The model minority stereotype ascribes East Asian minorities with positive characteristics such as intelligent and hardworking, and at the same time, with negative traits like socially-awkward and emotionally-reserved. Three studies investigated the psychological effects of the two sides of this stereotype on East Asian Canadian young adults as well as factors that may moderate or mediate these effects. Study 1 (N = 208) was a correlational study that explored the association between different stereotype aspects and well-being. Negative stereotypes were consistently linked to poorer well-being and lower self-esteem, but the relation between positive stereotypes and outcomes was moderated by generational status. Positive stereotypes were related to better well-being and higher self-esteem among first-generation participants, but to poorer well-being and lower self-esteem among second-generation participants. Study 2 had an experimental, between-subjects design, in which Chinese Canadian participants (N = 95) were asked to recall and write about an experience in which they were attributed with either a positive or a negative stereotypical trait (positive stereotype and negative stereotype conditions, respectively) or with a non-stereotypical trait (control). Contrary to predictions, there were no statistically significant condition effects on the primary outcome measures (well-being, state self-esteem, mainstream and heritage acculturation). Study 3 was an experimental laboratory study in which East Asian Canadian participants (N = 108) were either positively stereotyped (stereotyping condition) or not stereotyped (control) by an experimenter (who was either White or East Asian) in a social interaction before completing a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. As hypothesized, participants who had been stereotyped responded differently on some of the outcome measures than those who had not been stereotyped, and this difference was moderated by generational status. Relative to their non-stereotyped counterparts, stereotyped first-generation participants reported less mainstream identity denial whereas stereotyped second-generation participants reported more mainstream identity denial and lower mainstream acculturation. Experimenter race was not a moderator nor was identity denial a mediator of the relation between stereotyping condition and well-being outcomes. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the model minority stereotype is like a double-edged sword, both in content and its associated outcomes for East Asian Canadians, with second-generation individuals perhaps at greater risk for negative outcomes. Limitations, directions for future research, and implications are discussed.