Prescriptive stereotypes and workplace consequences for East Asians in North America

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2012 Apr;18(2):141-52. doi: 10.1037/a0027692.


We pursue the idea that racial stereotypes are not only descriptive, reflecting beliefs about how racial groups actually differ, but are prescriptive as well, reflecting beliefs about how racial groups should differ. Drawing on an analysis of the historic and current status of East Asians in North America, we study descriptive and prescriptive stereotypes of East Asians along the dimensions of competence, warmth, and dominance and examine workplace consequences of violating these stereotypes. Study 1 shows that East Asians are descriptively stereotyped as more competent, less warm, and less dominant than Whites. Study 2 shows that only the descriptive stereotype of East Asians as less dominant than Whites is also a prescriptive stereotype. Study 3 reveals that people dislike a dominant East Asian coworker compared to a nondominant East Asian or a dominant or a nondominant White coworker. Study 4 shows that East Asians who are dominant or warm are racially harassed at work more than nondominant East Asians and than dominant and nondominant employees of other racial identities. Implications for research and theory are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • China / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / ethnology
  • Male
  • North America
  • Prejudice
  • Republic of Korea / ethnology
  • Stereotyping*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Young Adult