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When being a model minority is good... and bad: realistic threat explains negativity toward Asian Americans

Author: Maddux, William W. ; Galinsky, Adam D. ; Polifroni, Mark ; Cuddy, Amy J. C.INSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourIn: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 34, no. 1, January 2008 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 74-89.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: The current research explored the hypothesis that realistic threat is one psychological mechanism that can explain how individuals can hold positive stereotypical beliefs toward Asian Americans, yet also express negative attitudes and emotions toward them. Study 1 demonstrated that in a realistic threat context, attitudes and emotions toward an anonymous group described by only positive, "model-minority" attributes were significantly more negative than when the group was described using other positive attributes. Study 2 demonstrated that realistic threat significantly mediated the relationship between a) the endorsement of the both the positive and negative stereotypes of Asian Americans, and b) subsequent negative attitudes and emotions toward them. Studies 3 and 4 conceptually replicated this effect in experimental situations involving interactions with Asian Americans in realistic threat contexts. Implications for our understanding of the nature of stereotyping and prejudice toward Asian Americans and other minority groups are discussed.
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The current research explored the hypothesis that realistic threat is one psychological mechanism that can explain how individuals can hold positive stereotypical beliefs toward Asian Americans, yet also express negative attitudes and emotions toward them. Study 1 demonstrated that in a realistic threat context, attitudes and emotions toward an anonymous group described by only positive, "model-minority" attributes were significantly more negative than when the group was described using other positive attributes. Study 2 demonstrated that realistic threat significantly mediated the relationship between a) the endorsement of the both the positive and negative stereotypes of Asian Americans, and b) subsequent negative attitudes and emotions toward them. Studies 3 and 4 conceptually replicated this effect in experimental situations involving interactions with Asian Americans in realistic threat contexts. Implications for our understanding of the nature of stereotyping and prejudice toward Asian Americans and other minority groups are discussed.

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