From opposition to alliance: Asian Westerners’ drive to fit in to a White society

Thai, Michael (2016). From opposition to alliance: Asian Westerners’ drive to fit in to a White society PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.395

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Author Thai, Michael
Thesis Title From opposition to alliance: Asian Westerners’ drive to fit in to a White society
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.395
Publication date 2016-07-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Fiona Kate Barlow
Matthew J. Hornsey
Total pages 88
Language eng
Subjects 170113 Social and Community Psychology
1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Racial minority groups are often depicted as distinct and cohesive social groups that contrast with the White majority. The present thesis, however, explores conditions under which racial minority group members may align with the dominant White majority. I focus specifically on Asian Westerners, whose paradoxical standing as a high-status yet low-belonging “perpetual foreigner” may engender tendencies to disengage from their racial ingroup and instead engage with the White majority. First, I show that the national identity denial they face by virtue of the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype leads Asian Westerners to identify internally as a prototypical (i.e., White) member of Western society (Chapter 2). I further show that Asian Westerners see themselves externally as having more “Asian” phenotypic features but idealize “Whiter” phenotypic features – an effect that is attenuated only when racial acceptance is made salient (Chapter 3). I also find that the “White alignment” tendencies in Asian Westerners extend beyond the self to other members of the Asian ingroup. Specifically, Asian Westerners preferentially accept “White-acting” over “Asian-acting” Asian targets into their social circles. Such acceptance appears strategically motivated by acceptance goals – they are also more likely to preferentially accept “Asian-acting” over “White-acting” White targets, and this pattern of acceptance only emerges for those who perceive high permeability between Asians and Whites. Thus, they gravitate towards people who blur the boundaries between their own group and the dominant group in Western society, only when they believe these boundaries can be blurred (Chapter 4). Finally, I find evidence to suggest that Asian Westerners provide moral concessions to members of the White majority who display or claim friendships with Asian people. Specifically, Asian (as well as White) Americans rate Whites’ conceivably prejudiced statements as less racist when Whites’ Asian friends (relatively to White friends) are present or referred to (Chapter 5). These findings converge to support the argument that racial minorities may sometimes be driven to align with the dominant White majority.
Keyword Racial minority psychology
Asian psychology
Perpetual foreigner
Stereotyping and prejudice
Ethnic deviance
Minority friendships
Moral licensing

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Created: Mon, 27 Jun 2016, 22:17:24 EST by Mr Michael Thai on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)