Far From Fairness: Prejudice, Skin Color, and Psychological Functioning in Asian Americans

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Objectives: We explored the moderating role of observed skin color in the association between prejudice and concurrent and lagged psychological functioning (i.e., depression, ingroup/outgroup psychological connectedness). We further aimed to understand gender differences in these processes. Method: Data from 821 Asian American undergraduate students (57.5% female and 42.5% male) were drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman. Cross-sectional and longitudinal regression-based moderation models were conducted with PROCESS 2.13 for SPSS. Results: Lighter skin color nullified the association between prejudice and recent depression for Asian American females. This moderating effect did not hold over time with regards to depression symptoms 1 year later. Additionally, prejudice predicted psychological distance to other Asian students 1 year later among females rated as lighter in skin color, whereas prejudice was tied to psychological closeness for females with darker skin ratings. Conclusions: Results highlight skin color as a pertinent factor relevant to the short-term and long-term mental health and social experiences of Asian American women in particular.

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