Internalized stereotypes and ethnic identity as predictors of self-esteem and help-seeking in Chinese Americans

E. Sarah Kwan, Fordham University


Stereotypes that have been ascribed to Asian Americans range from negatively valenced, such as occupying the role of perpetual foreigner, to positively valenced, including being hardworking and studious. Literature has shown that stereotypes, regardless of valence, can have negative effects on facets of psychological well-being. The study examined the relationship between internalizing Asian American stereotypes on self-esteem and help seeking in Chinese American emerging adults. Stereotypes related to English language communication, pursuit of prestigious careers, emotional reservation and academic success were also explored. The moderating effects of ethnic identity were examined and gender and generational status differences were also considered. One hundred ninety-three participants completed a self-report measure. Results revealed that overall, internalizing Asian American stereotypes and emotional reservation were significant individual predictors of self-esteem and help seeking. Ethnic identity did not moderate any of the relationships between stereotypes and either dependent variable; however, it was found to positively predict self-esteem. First-generation participants reported higher levels of self-esteem and valuing the pursuit of prestigious careers, but expressed more difficulties with English language communication. Finally, females displayed significantly more positive attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help than their male counterparts.

Subject Area

Asian Studies|Social psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Kwan, E. Sarah, "Internalized stereotypes and ethnic identity as predictors of self-esteem and help-seeking in Chinese Americans" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3703249.