|Abstract:||The purpose of this research aims to explore the effects of perceived racial discrimination on Asian immigrants’ psychological well-being. It investigates the moderating effects of immigrants’ group membership and coping factors. The main research hypotheses and exploratory research questions include the following: 1) Does perceived discrimination effect Asian immigrants’ psychological well-being (i.e., psychological stress and overall mental health)? ) Do coping and group membership variables (i.e., racial/ethnic identity, social support, immigrants’ generational status, ethnic subgroup, and age) bear moderating effects on the associations? This study hypothesizes that despite experiencing a higher rate of perceived discrimination, those with coping strategies and protective group membership—such as being a first generation immigrant or belonging to an ethnic subgroup with overall higher socio- economic Status—experience less negative impact on their psychological well-being.
This study utilized the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) dataset, which is a nationally representative study with strong quality measures relevant for the variables proposed. All Asian immigrants in the dataset (n=2,095) were included, and the results may be generalized to approximately 6,040,000 Asian immigrant adult populations in the United States. This research involved weighing step-wise hierarchical multiple regression to examine the main effect of perceived racial discrimination on two psychological well-being outcomes. Lastly, by using interaction terms in the final regression models, this study investigated the moderating effects of two coping and three group membership variables. All analysis was conducted by using STATA 13.0 S.E.
The results revealed significant detrimental effects of perceived racial discrimination on Asian immigrants’ psychological well-being. Experiencing a higher rate of perceived racial discrimination was negatively associated with Asian immigrants’ self-rated mental health (OR= .690, p ≤ .05; 95% CI [-.701- -.041]) and existing in a highly psychologically distressed state (B= -.668, p ≤ .01; 95% CI [-1.071– -.265]). For moderating variables, having a higher level of social support was significantly associated with a better psychological well-being outcome. Social support was a significant moderator (buffer) against perceived racial discrimination for Asian immigrants’ self-rated mental health (OR= 1.439, p ≤ .001; 95% CI [.172 - .556]. Another coping factor, racial/ethnic identity, yielded the opposite effect of the initial hypothesis. Asian immigrants with moderate-high levels of racial/ethnic identity were associated with having poorer self-rated mental health (OR= .488, p ≤ .1; 95% CI [-1.486 - .053]) and existing in a highly psychologically distressed state (B= .939, p ≤ .1; 95% CI [-.031 – 1.909]). Regarding group membership factors, Vietnamese ethnicity (B= -1.304, p ≤ .05; 95% CI [-2.296– -.312]) and being young adults (B= -.938, p ≤ .1; 95% CI [-2.042 – .312]) demonstrated negative moderating effects (non-protective effects) when Asian immigrants were challenged by perceived racial discrimination.
This study contributes to literature on the effects of perceived racial discrimination and psychological well-being of Asian immigrants in the United States. Also, this project adds to the current literature by examining relevant coping and group membership factors for the Asian immigrant population. Moreover, this investigation recognized the complicated nature of racial/ethnic identity. Findings from the current study reveal important policy and practice implication for settings that serve Asian immigrant populations. For practical application, social workers might help Asian immigrants to obtain a high level of social support, a protective factor for psychological well-being. For policy implications, institutions might promote diversity and disrupt incidents of racial discrimination.