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Faculty Publication: Assistant Professor of Psychology Thomas Le

February 21, 2024

Internalized Model Minority Myth, Distress, and Anti-Black Attitudes Among Low-Income Asian Americans

Authors: Thomas P. Le, Eunmyoung A. Lee, Priya Bansal, Richard Q. Shin

Source: Asian American Journal of Psychology, Advance online publication

Publication Type: Journal Article

Abstract: The unique health and psychosocial experiences of low-income Asian Americans have often been ignored in the research literature, in part, because of the model minority myth. The internalization of the model minority myth has been associated both with negative mental health outcomes and anti-Black attitudes. The present study thus extends the literature by examining the extent to which two facets of the internalized model minority myth, Unrestricted Mobility and Achievement Orientation, are associated with low-income Asian Americans’ psychological distress as well as their anti-Black attitudes. We also examined the potential moderating effect of subjective social status. Three hundred sixty-five low-income Asian Americans completed an online survey. Results showed that Unrestricted Mobility and Achievement Orientation were both associated with greater anti-Black attitudes. Unrestricted Mobility was associated with lesser psychological distress, and Achievement Orientation was not associated with distress. Subjective social status was not found to be a significant moderator. These results highlight how the model minority myth and its internalization may contribute to anti-Blackness among Asian Americans and increased divisiveness among racially marginalized groups in the United States. Furthermore, believing in the myth of Unrestricted Mobility may reduce distress among low-income Asian Americans, which may sustain the presence of this element of the model minority myth overall.