“You’re Asian; You’re Supposed to Be Smart”: Adolescents’ Experiences With the Model Minority Stereotype and Longitudinal Links With Identity

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Abstract

Asian Americans are frequently perceived as a model minority, which encompasses a multifaceted and stereotyped portrayal of hard work and success. This study examines developmental trends in adolescents’ experiences with the Model Minority Stereotype (MMS) during adolescence, the valence of feelings about the MMS, and the associations between experiences, feelings, and ethnic identity. Survey data were collected annually from 159 Asian American adolescents throughout high school. Results revealed that MMS experiences increased over time, but feelings remained consistent in valence. Experiences and feelings predicted ethnic identity both concurrently and longitudinally, but ethnic identity predicted experiences only concurrently and did not predict the valence of feelings. Discussion focuses on how adolescents’ attitudes toward a complex ethnic stereotype may evolve as they establish—or fail to establish—a connection to their cultural background.

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