Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Karen L. Suyemoto

Second Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Third Advisor

Laurel Wainwright


Asian Americans have been largely neglected in research dealing with race and racial issues. However, the harmful consequences of racism for Asian Americans and other minorities are well documented and racism-related stress has emerged as one of the ways that chronic racism impacts the lives of racial minorities. The limited extant literature suggests that racial identity, ethnic identity and psychological empowerment related to racism may be important contributors to this experience for Asian Americans.

One hundred and ninety eight Asian or Asian American college students over age 18 were recruited from a parent study investigating the impact of Asian American Studies courses on identity, mental health, and academic success in Asian American college students. Measures used in this study included the demographic form and measures of racism-related stress, racial identity, ethnic identity and racial empowerment. Racial identity was measured using both racial identity attitude endorsements and profile analysis using k-means cluster analysis. The k-means cluster analysis resulted in 6 racial identity profile clusters: Undifferentiated, Dissonance, White and Asian Affinity, Asian American Immersion, Internalization, and, Low Internalization clusters.

Results provided evidence for the relevance and importance of specific racial identity attitudes and profile configurations, ethnic identity, and levels of racial empowerment in mitigating racism-related stress in Asian Americans. Specifically, partial correlations indicated that endorsement of immersion racial identity attitudes, ethnic identity and racial empowerment were significantly positively correlated with racism-related stress in this sample. Racial empowerment, generational status, ethnic identity and the racial identity attitudes of conformity, dissonance and immersion each uniquely accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in racism-related stress in regression analyses. Interaction effects predicting racism-related stress were unsupported. However, exploratory analyses indicated that the Asian American Immersion and Dissonance racial identity profile clusters exhibited relatively higher levels of racism-related stress than Internalization and Undifferentiated clusters. Results suggest that simple correlations between racism-related stress and racial identity may not capture the interactions between attitudes within individual participants. Further research into the nuanced contributions of racial identity, ethnic identity, and racial empowerment to racism-related stress for Asian Americans is recommended. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.


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