Stereotypes as a Measure of Success

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Abstract

Chinese and Japanese stereotypes have undergone dramatic changes. Early stereotypes were uniformly negative, reflecting the social, economic, and political climate in America. Labor union members and gold miners were particularly vehement in their denunciation of Asian Americans because of the perceived threat of job competition. With the passage of numerous discriminatory laws and the entrance of other ethnic minorities, the Chinese and Japanese were considered less dangerous and the favorability of stereotypes increased. World War II revived negative stereotypes against the Japanese. Currently, these Asian American groups are viewed as highly successful, model minorities. To what extent are these positive stereotypes and views accurate? Methodological and conceptual problems in the study of stereotypes have hindered a clear analysis of this question. It is suggested that some stereotypes have kernels of truth. The potential negative consequences of favorable stereotypes are also discussed.

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