Sexual prejudice in Asian-American young adults : the mediational role of Asian cultural values in the relation between acculturation and attitudes towards lesbian and gay individuals
A well-documented form of prejudice in American history is sexual prejudice against lesbian and gay individuals. Understanding prejudicial attitudes towards lesbian and gay individuals are of concern for psychology researchers and mental health providers because sexual prejudice and adjacent discriminatory behaviors greatly hinders social justice and harms gay and lesbian individuals’ well-being (e.g., Gates, 2014). For lesbian and gay individuals of color in the United States, sexual prejudice concentrated in ethnic enclaves within the American mainstream culture may cause great psychological distress, as these individuals may place high importance on their degree of immersion in these communities of color and their immersion in mainstream White society (Szymanski & Sung, 2010). Research on sexual prejudice in the United States rarely centers Asian-American populations (Szymanski & Sung, 2013) and rarely accounts for acculturative and cultural factors in these populations’ sexual prejudice attitudes. The purpose of the present study was to examine a model of relationships between two facets of acculturation (dominant society immersion and ethnic society immersion), Asian cultural values, and sexual prejudice attitudes (attitudes towards lesbian women and gay men) for heterosexual Asian-American college students. In addition to establishing direct relationships between predictor variables and the outcome of sexual prejudice, the study also examined endorsement of Asian cultural values as a mediator between dominant society immersion (acculturation) and sexual prejudice, and between ethnic society immersion (enculturation) and sexual prejudice. For this population, there exists some research examining how degree of acculturation is correlated with prejudice attitudes, but none in a predictive structural equation model with simultaneous inclusion of both acculturation and enculturation and a mediating cultural values variable. Findings from the study indicated that a direct and an indirect linkage exists between acculturation and sexual prejudice, Asian cultural values is the mediating variable in the indirect linkage between acculturation with sexual prejudice, enculturation was neither linked to endorsement of Asian values nor to sexual prejudice, and Asian cultural values is a strong and more proximal predictor of sexual prejudice attitudes, compared to all examined variables, for this population. Determining predictors and mediating pathways which influence negative attitudes and behaviors toward lesbian and gay individuals is critical for informing clinicians who work with these individuals within the Asian-American community and for developing more culturally appropriate community-wide stigma reduction interventions.