Individual variations in stress response to racial microaggressions among Asian Americans

Gloria Wong-Padoongpatt, Nolan Zane, Sumie Okazaki, Anne Saw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender differences are prominent among Asian Americans in the experiences of and response to racial discrimination in interpersonal interactions (Liang, Alvarez, Juang, & Liang, 2009; Liu, 2002). Asian American men report more experiences of cross-race discrimination compared with Asian American women (Wong, Owen, Tran, Collins, & Higgins, 2012), which may explain the gender differences in expectations of rejection (London & Rosenthal, 2013). The current study examined gender and rejection sensitivity as moderators for microaggressions on stress. A total of 127 Asian American men and women were randomly assigned to either a cross-race (White perpetrator) or a same-race microaggression (Asian perpetrator) condition. The perpetrator in both conditions delivered the same microaggression about English-speaking abilities: "Do you speak English? I mean, is English your second language?" Findings revealed that White perpetrators caused more stress compared with Asian perpetrators. A three-way interaction with microaggression type, gender, and rejection sensitivity on stress showed that Asian American men who were more likely to expect rejection based on their Asian American identity experienced more stress from a White perpetrator compared with those who were less likely to expect rejection. Practitioners working with Asian Americans need to conceptualize microaggressions as cross-race stressors and should be aware of gender differences when processing the impact of microaggressions. Implications for theory, research, and practice with Asian Americans are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-137
Number of pages12
JournalAsian American Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Gender differences and microaggressions
  • Intersectional approach to microaggressions
  • Racial microaggressions
  • Racism-related stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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