Does Discrimination Look Different Between Racial Groups?

In a model of racial position, we provide a framework that illuminates the unique ways that groups are stereotyped in the U.S., with implications for distinct patterns of discrimination (Zou & Cheryan, JPSP, 2017) and threat (Zou & Cheryan, JEP:G, 2021). U.S. racial and ethnic groups are stereotyped along two primary dimensions: perceived status and perceived cultural foreignness (Zou & Cheryan, JPSP, 2017). White Americans are stereotyped as higher status and more American than other racial and ethnic groups, African Americans and Native Americans are stereotyped as low status and relatively American (though not as American as White Americans), Latinx Americans and Arab Americans are stereotyped as low status and culturally foreign, and Asian Americans are stereotyped as relatively high status and culturally foreign.

As a consequence of being perceived as less American, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinx Americans have their identities as Americans questioned on a regular basis (Cheryan & Monin, JPSP, 2005; Wang, Minervino, & Cheryan, GPIR, 2013). Members of these groups react by altering their behavior. For instance, Asian Americans who have their American identities doubted attempt to prove that they are American by consuming more American, and consequently unhealthier, foods (Guendelman et al., 2011). These unhealthy behaviors are then reinforced: When Asian Americans gain weight, they are perceived as more American and are less likely to face prejudice directed at foreigners than their thinner counterparts (Handron, Kirby, Wang, Mastkewich, & Cheryan, Psych Sci, 2017).