Theses Doctoral

The Role of Coping and Racial Identity in the Relationship Between Racism-Related Stress and Psychological Distress for Asian Americans

Cha, Nancy Moonhee

The present study examined the psychological effects of racism-related stress on Asian Americans (N=866). The purpose of the current study was to investigate a stress and coping model for Asian Americans by considering culturally based coping options. As such, the study sought to understand collectivistic coping as mediating the relationship between racism-related stress and psychological distress for Asian Americans. The stress and coping model, which was tested through Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), hypothesized that higher racism-related stress leads to increased use of collectivistic coping strategies, which then decreases psychological distress (depression, anxiety, hostility and defensive paranoia). It was hypothesized that higher racism-related stress would have a positive effect on more collectivistic coping strategies which would then have a negative effect (decrease) on psychological distress. Racial identity status attitudes were also included separately to understand one's experience with racism related stress to provide more information into the within group variability in racism-related stress reactions that exist among Asian Americans.
Results from this study indicated that Asian Americans utilize a culturally based coping style to respond to racism-related stress. However, those coping strategies are significantly related to increased psychological distress, which is contrary to the proposed hypothesis. Although not all the hypotheses were supported, the results of the study showed an overall acceptable model fit. The results therefore provide strong evidence to support that psychological distress is experienced as a result of racism-related stress for Asian Americans, despite the use of collectivistic coping strategies.


  • thumnail for Cha_columbia_0054D_10038.pdf Cha_columbia_0054D_10038.pdf application/pdf 3.37 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 26, 2017