Researchers explore prejudice against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic

The findings may explain why many Americans blame their fellow people of Asian descent for purportedly amplifying the virus' spread.

2 min read

A recent article released in the journal Ethnicity & Health explores what’s driving stigmatization of Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, initiated by a research group at Ohio State University, determined that a mix of racial prejudice, partisan media perspectives, and poor coping skills, may explain why many Americans blame their fellow people of Asian descent for purportedly amplifying the virus’ spread.

“It was striking that this general prejudice against Asian Americans appeared to play a powerful role in the stigmatization of this group in the specific context of COVID-19,” said Hyunyi Cho, the study’s lead author, in a news release.

“We wanted to see what could explain people of Asian descent being stigmatized for this virus,” Cho added.

The study involved more than 800 adult participants in the U.S., who took part in a nationwide survey during mid-May 2020.

In the survey, the participants were asked about the recent coronavirus pandemic, along with how they were affected and able to cope with the virus’s disastrous effects. The survey also touched on their views of Asian Americans during the pandemic.

According to the research group, stereotypical racial beliefs and purported dislike of the wealth of some Asian Americans correlated with stigmatization.

“It turned out that the stereotypes and beliefs that people already had about Asian Americans were more powerful in predicting stigmatization than other factors we studied,” another co-author of the study explained in a news release.

“We saw evidence in our results that stigmatization of Asian Americans because of COVID-19 can have a political and ideological aspect.”

“Efforts to reduce stigmatization should address racial stereotypes and emotions, maladaptive coping, and biased media use by providing education and resources to the public. Fostering collective efficacy and media-based contacts with Asian Americans can facilitate these efforts,” the co-authors concluded in their findings.

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