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).


Huffington Post discusses our findings on weight and American identity, People see heavier Asian-Americans as more American, study shows (August 2017)

The New York Times writes about our study on weight and American identity, Overweight Asian-Americans are seen as more ‘American,’ study finds (August 2017)

The Vancouver Sun summarizes our findings in their article, Does this green card make me look fat? Immigrants pack on the pounds in America (May 2011)

Time Magazine summarizes our findings in their article, Do immigrant kids get fat to fit in? (May 2011)

United Press International features our findings in their article, Immigrants eat high-fat food to fit in (May 2011)

U.S. News and World Report summarizes our findings in their article, Immigrants eat American junk food to fit in (May 2011)

NBC News described our findings in their article, U.S. immigrants get supersized (May 2011)

The New York Times mentions our findings in their article, What We’re Reading (May 2011)

The Telegraph describes our studies and findings in their article, Immigrant groups change diet ‘to fit in’ (May 2011)