Choi, Y., Tan, K., Yasui, M., & Hahm, H. C. (in press). Advancing Understanding of Acculturation for Adolescents of Immigrants: Person-Oriented Analysis of Acculturation Strategy among Korean American Youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence


Choi, Y., Kim, T., Pekelnicky, D.D., Kim, K. & Kim, Y.S. (in press). Impact of youth cultural orientations on perception of family process and development among Korean Americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology



Choi, Y. (2014). Moving forward: Asian Americans in the Discourse of Race and Social Problems. Race and Social Problems, Special Issue on “Asian Americans.” (NIHMSID#558848) DOI 10.1007/s12552-014-9113-6



“Asians don’t count.” I often hear this in discussions about whether Asian Americans are a legitimate racial and ethnic minority in the United States. Typical justifications for not counting Asian Americans are that they are too small in numbers and they are doing just fine and may in fact be doing better than whites. But as the papers in this special issue of Race and Social Problems reveal, these assumptions are simply not true.

Asian Americans are, first, no longer demographically ignorable. Asian Americans in the United States are fastest growing population, and their numbers are projected to double by 2050, reaching nearly 10 % of the US total population. Further, the popular “model minority” stereotype is not valid. More than two decades of research has firmly refuted the proposition, and yet it persists, with harmful consequences. The myth serves to exclude Asian Americans in the critical discourse on race and related social problems, including racial inequality, discrimination, and structural barriers that affect individuals and families. As a result, Asian Americans remain unrecognized, understudied, and underserved.


Choi, Y., Tan, K., Yasui, M., & Pekelnicky, D.D. (2014). Race-ethnicity and culture in the family and youth outcomes: Test of a path model with Korean American youth and parents. Race and Social Problems, Special Issue on “Asian Americans.” (NIHMSID#557629) DOI 10.1007/s12552-014-9111-8



This study examined the interplay of parental racial-ethnic socialization and youth multidimensional cultural orientations to investigate how they indirectly and directly influence youth depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors. Using data from the Korean American Families (KAF) Project (220 youths, 272 mothers, and 164 fathers, N =656), this study tested the relationships concurrently, longitudinally, and accounting for earlier youth outcomes. The main findings include that racial-ethnic socialization is significantly associated with mainstream and ethnic cultural orientation among youth, which in turn influences depressive symptoms (but not antisocial behaviors). More specifically, parental racial-ethnic identity and pride discourage youth mainstream orientation, whereas cultural socialization in the family, as perceived by youth, increases ethnic orientation. These findings suggest a varying impact of racial-ethnic socialization on the multidimensional cultural orientations of youth. Korean language proficiency of youth was most notably predictive of a decrease in the number of depressive symptoms concurrently, longitudinally, and after controlling for previous levels of depressive symptoms. English language proficiency was also associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms, implying a benefit of bilingualism.


Choi, Y., Kim, Y.S., Kim, S.Y., & Park, I.J.K. (2013). Is Asian American Parenting Controlling and Harsh? Empirical Testing of Relationships between Korean American and Western Parenting Measures. Asian American Journal of Psychology. Special Issue titled “Tiger Moms, Asian American Parenting, and Child/Adolescent Well-being in Diverse Contexts.”4(1), 19-29 (PMC3746991)



Asian American parenting is often portrayed as highly controlling and even harsh. This study empirically tested the associations between a set of recently developed Korean ga-jung-kyo-yuk measures and several commonly used Western parenting measures to accurately describe Asian American family processes, specifically those of Korean Americans. The results show a much nuanced and detailed picture of Korean American parenting as a blend of Western authoritative and authoritarian styles with positive and—although very limited—negative parenting. Certain aspects of ga-jung-kyo-yuk are positively associated with authoritative style or authoritarian style, or even with both of them simultaneously. They were positively associated with positive parenting (warmth, acceptance, and communication) but not with harsh parenting (rejection and negative discipline). Exceptions to this general pattern were Korean traditional disciplinary practices and the later age of separate sleeping of children. The study discusses implications of these findings and provides suggestions for future research.


Choi, Y., Kim, Y. S., Pekelnicky, D.D. & Kim, H. J. (2012). Preservation and modification of culture in family socialization: Development of parenting measures for Korean immigrant families. Asian American Journal of Psychology. (NIHMSID# 358897), (DOI) 10.1037/a0028772.



This study aims to describe the family socialization beliefs and practices of Korean immigrant parents through testing psychometric properties of several newly developed items and scales to assess the major components of the Korean traditional concept of family socialization, ga-jung-kyo-yuk. These new measures were examined for validity and reliability. The findings show that Korean immigrant parents largely preserve their traditional and core parenting values, while also showing meaningful, yet not very dramatic, signs of adopting new cultural traits. The results also suggest that the acculturative process may not be simply bilinear but may generate a new, unique and blended value and behavior set from the two (or more) cultures involved. Culturally appropriate practice requires not only further validation of existing knowledge with minority groups, but the development of a theoretical framework of family socialization that recognizes the cultural uniqueness of immigrant families.


Choi, Y., He, M., Herrenkohl, T., Catalano, R.F., Toumbourou, J.W. (2012). Multiple identification and risks: Examination of peer factors across multiracial and single-race youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 41(7), 847-862. (PMC22395776).



Multiracial youth are thought to be more vulnerable to peer-related risk factors than are single-race youth. However, there have been surprisingly few well-designed studies on this topic. This study empirically investigated the extent to which multiracial youth are at higher risk for peer influenced problem behavior. Data are from a representative and longitudinal sample of youth from Washington State (N = 1,760, mean age = 14.13, 50.9% girls). Of those in the sample, 225 youth self-identified as multiracial (12.8%), 1,259 as White (71.5%), 152 as Latino (8.6%), and 124 as Asian American (7.1%). Results show that multiracial youth have higher rates of violence and alcohol use than Whites and more marijuana use than Asian Americans. Higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and single-parent family status partly explained the higher rates of problem behaviors among multiracial youth. Peer risk factors of substance-using or antisocial friends were higher for multiracial youth than Whites, even after socioeconomic variables were accounted for, demonstrating a higher rate of peer risks among multiracial youth. The number of substance-using friends was the most consistently significant correlate and predictor of problems and was highest among multiracial youth. However, interaction tests did not provide consistent evidence of a stronger influence of peer risks among multiracial youth. Findings underscore the importance of a differentiated understanding of vulnerability in order to better target prevention and intervention efforts as well as the need for further research that can help identify and explain the unique experiences and vulnerabilities of multiracial youth.


Choi, Y., & Kim, Y.S. (2010). Acculturation and the family: Core vs. peripheral changes among Korean Americans. Journal of Studies of Koreans Abroad. 21, 135-190. (PMC3148822)



The traditional cultural characteristics are challenged and negotiated in the process of acculturation; some characteristics are discarded, others are maintained, still others may get strengthened, new characteristics from the new cultures are adopted, and possibly a new hybrid of a culture of familysocialization may emerge. The focus group interviews conducted with Korean-American parents and their children attest to the complexity of this process mixed with core and peripheral changes. The study findings show that Korean-American families appear to live more distinctly in the Koreanculture than the mainstream Western culture, and the parental cultural adaptation is, at least at this point, minimal. Korean immigrant parents show reluctance and resistance to change, except in some of the areas that they believe are necessary and potentially helpful to their children. Familyvalues are core values that parents are eager to maintain and transmit to their children. Korean-American parents are also deeply concerned that their children are growing up as a racial and cultural minority, which, they believe, is likely to impede children's development and future prospects. To protect their children, parents focus quite intensely on ethnic socialization within the family - a pattern that is shared among many Asian subgroups, particularly among Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant families, because they strongly believe that a clear sense of ethnic identity and the deliberate preservation of the tradition helps buffer the risks and negativities derived from being an ethnic and cultural minority in the U.S. Youth, mostly second-generation immigrants, have internalized the Korean traditional family values and behaviors, probably more than their parents think that they have - a sign of successful enculturation. Unlike parents' fears, children do not seem to suffer greatly from identity confusion. The overall responses suggest that Korean-American youth are aware of their minority status and cultural differences but have a positive and strong sense of ethnic identity as Korean-Americans, which also might be a sign of successful familial ethnic socialization.


Choi, Y. (2008). Diversity within: Subgroup differences of youth problem behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology. 36(3), 352-370. (PMC2475653)



This study compares problem behaviors across a range of adolescent Asian Pacific Islander (API) subgroups using the Add Health data, and controlling for parental education or immigrant status. The study finds that Filipino, "other" API, and multiethnic API American youth are at higher risk for poorer outcomes than Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese American counterparts. Many of these differences remained after adjusting for parental education. Controlling for immigrant status explained only some of the subgroup differences. The results suggest several shortcomings to the "model minority" stereotype that is often applied to API American youth. Research and practice should not overlook the higher risk for problembehaviors among certain API American subgroups. The findings highlight the need for more resources for API Americans, especially for the API subgroups facing higher risks.



Choi, Y., He, M., & Harachi, T.W. (2008). Intergenerational cultural dissonance, family conflict, parent-child bonding, and youth antisocial behaviors among Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Special Issue titled “Asian American Youth: Exemplars of New Directions in Empirical Research.” 37(1), 85-96. (PMC2475652)



Intergenerational cultural dissonance (ICD)-a clash between parents and children over cultural values-is a frequent issue for Asian American youth. Using longitudinal data from the Cross Cultural Families Project, this study examines the mechanisms by which ICD contributes to problem behaviors, including whether ICD predicts parent-child conflict, whether parent-child conflict then has a direct effect on youth problem behavior, and whether positive bonding with parents mediates the effects of such conflict on youth problem behaviors among Vietnamese (n=164) and Cambodian (n=163) families with adolescents [average age=15.2 years (SD=1.05)]. The results from the path analyses show that, in both groups, ICD indirectly predicts problem behaviors by increasing parent-child conflict, which in turn weakens positive parent-child bonding. Interventions that target youths' perception of intergenerational cultural gaps, help them manage conflict, and help strengthen bonds with parents may prevent problem behaviors among Cambodian and Vietnamese families. This study contributes to inform how to effectively prevent problems and difficulties among these families.


Choi, Y. (2007). Academic achievement and problem behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 403-415. (NIHMSID# 293552)



Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study tests whether the relationship between academic achievement andproblem behaviors is the same across racial and ethnic groups. Some have suggested that academic achievement may be a weaker predictor ofproblem behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American (API) youth; that they can have high grades but still exhibit problem behaviors. This study finds that academic performance is a significant predictor of aggressive and nonaggressive delinquent offenses, gang initiation, sexual behaviors, and substance use, and that the relationship generally does not vary by race and ethnicity. Thus, there is little evidence that API youth are high achievers who are also engaging significantly in problem behaviors. The existing perceptions of API youth may be largely based on stereotype and ambivalence.


Choi, Y., Harachi, T.W., & Catalano, R.F. (2006). Neighborhoods, family, and substance use: Comparisons of the relations across racial and ethnic groups. Social Service Review, 80(4), 675-704. (PMC2373278)



This study examines how substance use among adolescents is related to several risk and protective factors derived from two ecological contexts: the neighborhood and the family. It explicitly investigates how the relationships between substance use and the factors vary across different racial and ethnic groups. Findings suggest many common correlates and processes of substance use for adolescents, regardless of race or ethnicity, including that neighborhood safety is associated with substance use. There are also some racial and ethnic group differences in relationships, including that low attachment to and lack of social opportunities in neighborhoods more strongly predict substance use among whites than among other racial and ethnic groups and that family management decreases the relationship between neighborhood safety and substance use among African Americans. A better understanding of the associations among factors that influence substance use across racial and ethnic subgroups can help effectively target preventive interventions for different groups.


Harachi, T.W., Choi, Y., Abbott, R.D., Catalano, R.F., & Bliesner, S.L. (2006). Examining equivalence of concepts and measures in diverse samples. Prevention Science, 7(4), 359-368. (PMC3293252)



While there is growing awareness for the need to examine the etiology of problem behaviors across cultural, racial, socioeconomic, and gender groups, much research tends to assume that constructs are equivalent and that the measures developed within one group equally assess constructs across groups. The meaning of constructs, however, may differ across groups or, if similar in meaning, measures developed for a given construct in one particular group may not be assessing the same construct or may not be assessing the construct in the same manner in other groups. The aims of this paper were to demonstrate a process of testing several forms of equivalence including conceptual, functional, item, and scalar using different methods. Data were from the Cross-Cultural Families Project, a study examining factors that promote the healthy development and adjustment of children among immigrant Cambodian and Vietnamese families. The process described in this paper can be implemented in other prevention studies interested in diverse groups. Demonstrating equivalence of constructs and measures prior to group comparisons is necessary in order to lend support of our interpretation of issues such as ethnic group differences and similarities.


Choi, Y., & Lahey, B. B. (2006). Testing the model minority stereotype: Youth behaviors across racial and ethnic groups. Social Service Review, 80(3), 419-452. (PMC3093248)



Using data from a large nationally representative sample of adolescents attending school, this study tests the stereotype that youth of Asian Pacific Islander ethnicity (API) are the model minority. The results suggest that, except for substance use, API American youth do not report fewer delinquent behaviors than white youth; in fact, API American youth report slightly higher numbers of aggressive offenses than white youth, and female API American youth report greater numbers of nonaggressive offenses than white female youth. Also, API American youth report higher rates of nonaggressive offenses and substance use than do black youth. The mental health and social service needs of API American youth are thus at least as great as those of white youth. The need for such services increases with the length of residency in the United States.According to the stereotype, Asian Pacific Islander (API) Americans are the “model minority” (Kitano 1969, 257): they work hard, they behave well, and they succeed.1 In fact, API Americans are often regarded as “whiter than white” (Sue and Kitano 1973, 87). The stereotype also generally presents API Americans as being self-sufficient, in that they take care of their own problems within the family or the community. However, it is questionable whether the model minority stereotype is accurate. There are few empirical studies comparing API Americans' behaviors with those of other racial and ethnic groups. In those studies that do exist, there is conflicting evidence as to whether API Americans behave better than other racial and ethnic groups.


Choi, Y., Harachi, T.W., Gillmore, M.R., & Catalano, R.F. (2006). Are multiracial a

dolescents at greater risk? Comparisons of rates, patterns, and correlates of substance use and violence between monoracial and multiracial adolescents. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(1), 86-97. (PMC3292211)



Rates and patterns of substance use and violent behaviors among multiracial adolescents were examined and compared with 3 monoracial groups, European, African, and Asian Americans. The relationships between ethnic identity and the subjective experience of racial discrimination, substance use, and violent behavior were also examined. The authors found multiracial adolescents reporting higher rates of problem behaviors. Several significant relationships between ethnic identity and racial discrimination were found with these problem behaviors.


Choi, Y., Mericle, A., & Harachi, T.W. (2006). Using Rasch analysis to test the cross-cultural item equivalence of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist across Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant mothers. Journal of Applied Measurement, 7(1), 16-38. (PMC3292214)


AbstractA major challenge in conducting assessments in ethnically and culturally diverse populations, especially using translated instruments, is the possibility that measures developed for a given construct in one particular group may not be assessing the same construct in other groups. Using a Rasch analysis, this study examined the item equivalence of two psychiatric measures, the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ), measuring traumatic experience, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL), assessing depression symptoms across Vietnamese- and Cambodian American mothers, using data from the Cross-Cultural Families (CCF) Project. The majority of items were equivalent across the two groups, particularly on the HTQ. However, some items were endorsed differently by the two groups, and thus are not equivalent, suggesting Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants may manifest certain aspects of trauma and depression differently. Implications of these similarities and differences for practice and the use of IRT in this arena are discussed.


Choi, Y., Harachi, T.W., Gillmore, M.R., & Catalano, R.F. (2005) Applicability of the Social Development Model to urban ethnic minority youth: Examining the relationships between external constraints, family socialization, and problem behaviors. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15(4), 505-534. (PMC3103210)



The development of preventive interventions targeting adolescent problem behaviors requires a thorough understanding of risk and protective factors for such behaviors. However, few studies examine whether different cultural and ethnic groups share these factors. This study is an attempt to fill a gap in research by examining similarities and differences in risk factors across racial and ethnic groups. The social development model has shown promise in organizing predictors of problem behaviors. This article investigates whether a version of that model can be generalized to youth in different racial and ethnic groups (N = 2,055, age range from 11 to 15), including African American (n = 478), Asian Pacific Islander (API) American (n = 491), multiracial (n = 442), and European American (n = 644) youth. The results demonstrate that common risk factors can be applied to adolescents, regardless of their race and ethnicity. The findings also demonstrate that there are racial and ethnic differences in the magnitudes of relationships among factors that affect problem behaviors. Further study is warranted to develop a better understanding of these differential magnitudes.


Choi, Y., Golder, S., Gillmore, M. R., & Morrison, D. M. (2005). Analysis with missing data in social work research. Journal of Social Service Research, 31(3), 23-48.