Theses Doctoral

Perceived discrimination, internalized racism, and psychological distress among Asian Americans: The protective role of ethnic identity and critical action

Kim, Jung Eun

As reflected in the surge of anti-Asian discrimination following the outbreak of COVID-19, Asian Americans continue to face subtle and overt forms of racism despite the misguided popular image as the “model minority.” Prior research has found that perceived discrimination experiences are associated with adverse mental health outcomes for Asian Americans. The current study extends the literature by exploring pathways that link perceptions of discrimination and psychological distress and protective factors that disrupt this link.

The study tested a moderated mediation model that included internalized racism as a mediator and critical action and ethnic identity as moderators, utilizing the bootstrap-based PROCESS analysis (Hayes, 2013). Participants were 424 Asian American adults ranging in age from 18 to 73 that completed an online survey. Results indicated that internalized racism mediated the relation between perceptions of discrimination and psychological distress. Critical action, but not ethnic identity, significantly moderated the mediated effect of racial discrimination on psychological distress through internalized racism. Specifically, among Asian Americans that reported high levels of critical action, internalized racism did not the mediate the relation between perceived racial discrimination and psychological distress. Findings are discussed in terms of their implication for clinical practice, educational and community programming, and advocacy efforts for Asian Americans.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Brewster, Melanie E.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 17, 2022