Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 572–581 | Cite as

Model Minority Stereotype: Influence on Perceived Mental Health Needs of Asian Americans

  • Alice W. Cheng
  • Janet Chang
  • Janine O’Brien
  • Marc S. Budgazad
  • Jack Tsai
Original Paper


This study examined the influence of the model minority stereotype on the perceived mental health functioning of Asian Americans. It was hypothesized that college students would perceive Asian Americans as having fewer mental health problems and clinical symptoms than Whites due to the model minority stereotype. Four hundred and twenty-five undergraduate students from a predominately White college campus in the American northeast were randomly exposed to one of four conditions: (1) a clinical vignette describing a White college student suffering from adjustment disorder; (2) the same vignette describing an Asian American college student; (3) a newspaper article describing a success story of Whites and the White clinical vignette; (4) the same newspaper article and clinical vignette describing an Asian American. Following exposure to one of the conditions, participants completed a memory recall task and measures of colorblindness, attitudes towards Asian Americans, attitudes towards out-group members, and perceived mental health functioning. Participants exposed to the vignettes primed with the positive/model minority stereotype perceived the target regardless of race/ethnicity as having better mental health functioning and less clinical symptoms than the condition without the stereotype. Additionally, the stereotype primer was found to be a modest predictor for the perception of mental health functioning in Asian American vignettes. Results shed light on the impact of the model minority stereotype on the misperception of Asian Americans’ mental health status, contributing to the invisibility or neglect of this minority group’s mental health needs.


Asian American Model minority stereotype Mental health Decision-making Racial bias 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice W. Cheng
    • 1
  • Janet Chang
    • 2
  • Janine O’Brien
    • 1
  • Marc S. Budgazad
    • 1
  • Jack Tsai
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HartfordWest HartfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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