News Detail

Sapna Cheryan’s research is featured in this UW News article about how “American” LGBTQ Asian Americans seem.

LGBTQ Asian Americans seen as more ‘American’

The fastest-growing racial group in the United States — Asian Americans — is also one that is consistently perceived as “foreign.”

But for Asian Americans who are gay or lesbian, their sexual orientation may make them seem more “American” than those who are presumed straight. A new University of Washington study, the latest in research to examine stereotypes, identity and ideas about who is “American,” focuses on how sexual orientation and race come together to influence others’ perceptions.

“Research on race is often separate from research on sexual orientation. Here we bring the two together to understand how they interact to influence judgments of how American someone is considered,” said Sapna Cheryan , a UW associate professor of psychology.

Cheryan in 2017 authored a related study , which showed how stereotypically American traits, such as being overweight, made Asian Americans seem more “American.” The new research by Cheryan and her students, a collection of four studies, was published June 27 in Social Psychological and Personality Science .

Research has shown that Asian Americans, and people of color in general, are seen as less American than white Americans, and face prejudice and discrimination throughout various aspects of life. Regarding sexual orientation, studies have found that, relative to countries such as Japan and South Korea, the United States has implemented more civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation, and is seen as more LGBTQ-friendly.

The new UW research involved four separate, diverse groups of participants drawn from the UW student population, all of whom were asked to answer questions related to brief, written descriptions of hypothetical people or scenarios.

In the first study, participants were randomly assigned to read a brief descriptive phrase of a person named John, identified either as “an Asian American man” or “a gay Asian American man.” They were then asked to rate, using a seven-point scale, how American they considered him through questions such as “How fluently do you think this person speaks English?” and “How integrated is this person in American culture?”

Researchers found that the hypothetical “gay Asian American man” was perceived as significantly more American than the hypothetical “Asian American man,” whose sexual orientation wasn’t specified.

Read the entire article here.