Ethnicity moderates the benefits of perceived support and emotional expressivity on stress reactivity for Asian Americans and Euro Americans

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2018 Jul;24(3):363-373. doi: 10.1037/cdp0000197. Epub 2018 May 21.

Abstract

Objective: This study examined whether ethnicity moderated the benefits of perceived support and emotion expressivity on stress responses (cortisol, negative mood, task performance) during a lab stress task for Asian Americans and Euro Americans. We hypothesized that perceived support and emotion expressivity would be less beneficial for Asian Americans (relative to Euro Americans), for whom support seeking and emotional expressivity are less aligned with cultural values.

Method: A majority female sample (72%) of 83 Asian American (first generation, n = 30; second generation, n = 53) and 50 Euro American college students completed the Trier Social Stress Test. Participants provided baseline and poststressor measures of salivary cortisol and negative mood, and their task performance was coded by researchers.

Results: Results showed evidence of ethnic group moderation such that perceived support and emotional expressivity did not buffer biological, psychological, or behavioral stress outcomes for Asian Americans, but did offer some benefits to Euro Americans. The two groups differed on interdependence and acculturation, yet there was limited evidence that cultural variables moderated those same associations.

Conclusions: Results counter the notion that perceived support and emotion expressivity are universal psychosocial resources for managing stress. This study highlights the importance of considering ethnic group differences in these socioemotional processes that are relevant for better understanding adaptive coping and well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Students / psychology
  • United States