Subtle Identity Threats Could Bias Asian Americans In Making Decisions

I have an interest reading up research papers and looking at new findings from studies. Recently I came across one study of Asian Americans and their identity. A recent psychology study by a UC Berkeley graduate student Maya Guendelman and her colleagues focused on whether one is really an American can affect the choices of food they want to eat. That may not be the most interesting question of interest.

However, the criteria of determining if you are an American for one of the studies is to ask an innocuous question such as “Do you speak English?” to half of the sample of Asian Americans seems to be interesting. That question alone seemed to bias Asian Americans to choose food associated with America such as burgers and French fries compared to a group of Asian Americans who had not been asked this question and a group of White Americans that should not be affected by this question.

In another study, they investigated to see if certain statements that are identity threats will affect Asian Americans to choose more American style food on a web-based menu. Before the participants go in the study, the experimenter stopped half the participants at the door and said, “Actually, you have to be an American to be in this study.” That seemed to be threatening in the sense that the Asian Americans felt like the experimenter was questioning their nationality. The results were similar to the first study.

What do these studies conclude? It could mean that Asian Americans are easily affected by others’ words because we strive to fit in. Maybe that is why we are known to not voice our opinions or afraid to stand up for ourselves when we get bullied. However, does this still hold true today and is the perception of Asian Americans changing? According to these results, it seems that we are likely to change our decisions to fit in with the majority.

However, the results could simply be confounded, such that those Asian Americans really like hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. I don’t know but, I can only have so many hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. If I was asked to do this study I will definitely be the outlier because I will put down sushi, ramen, fried rice, boba milk tea, etc. even if that questions my “American-ness!”

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About Mary

I was born in Hong Kong then moved to Los Angeles at a young age. I like to volunteer at a local health clinic, do scientific research, take photographs of sceneries and food, write, and dance for fun! One word to describe me: spontaneous || What I like to do the most: Eat yummy food and write about it!!! || Something I can't live without: blogging! || Goals in life: Travel around the world || My dream: To help others and save the world like Wonder Woman
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