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National Origin Identity Neglect and Recognition: The Effect of Identity Treatment on Well-Being and Intergroup Relations


Three studies examine unique experiences Asians and Latinos in the United States have with regard to their ethnic group identification. Previous research suggests that Asians and Latinos identify more strongly with their national origin group (i.e., China or Mexico) than with their pan-ethnic group (i.e., Asian or Latino). However, national origin groups are often not acknowledged in a manner that is consistent with an individual's self-view. In some cases, the individual's national origin group is seen as part of a homogeneous group (e.g., Latinos) and thus, interchangeable with another national origin group (e.g., Mexican is the same as Puerto Rican because all Latinos are the same). In other cases, one is mistakenly categorized into a national origin group in which one is not a member (e.g., thinking a Puerto Rican individual is Mexican). Three studies offer a novel social psychological perspective on understudied experiences that Asians and Latinos have in the U.S. with their national origin identities. By examining real-life experiences with how national origin identities are treated by others as well as examining the experimental effects of national origin identity treatment, the three studies provide evidence that national origin identities are significant, self-relevant identities to Asians and Latinos and that those identities need to be treated in a way that is consistent with individuals' self-views. The lack thereof can have negative effects on self-reported psychological well-being, outgroup evaluations, and other psychological consequences. More importantly, acknowledging the national origin identity in a manner that is consistent with self-view can have positive downstream effects on self-reported psychological well-being. It is important that these understudied experiences continue to be examined as they become increasingly important in two of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the U.S.

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