Where Are You From? A Validation of the Foreigner Objectification Scale and the Psychological Correlates of Foreigner Objectification Among Asian Americans and Latinos

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Abstract

Many ethnic minorities in the United States consider themselves to be just as American as their European American counterparts. However, there is a persistent cultural stereotype of ethnic minorities as foreigners (i.e., the perpetual foreigner stereotype) that may be expressed during interpersonal interactions (i.e., foreigner objectification). The goal of the present study was to validate the Foreigner Objectification Scale, a brief self-report measure of perceived foreigner objectification, and to examine the psychological correlates of perceived foreigner objectification. Results indicated that the Foreigner Objectification Scale is structurally (i.e., factor structure) and metrically (i.e., factor loadings) invariant across foreign-born and U.S.-born Asian Americans and Latinos. Scalar (i.e., latent item intercepts) invariance was demonstrated for the two foreign-born groups and the two U.S.-born groups, but not across foreign-born and U.S.-born individuals. Multiple-group structural equation models indicated that, among U.S.-born individuals, perceived foreigner objectification was associated with less life satisfaction and more depressive symptoms, and was indirectly associated with lower self-esteem via identity denial, operationalized as the perception that one is not viewed by others as American. Among foreign-born individuals, perceived foreigner objectification was not significantly associated directly with self-esteem, life satisfaction, or depressive symptoms. However, perceived foreigner objectification was positively associated with identity denial, and identity denial was negatively associated with life satisfaction. This study illustrates the relevance of perceived foreigner objectification to the psychological well-being of U.S.-born Asian Americans and Latinos.

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