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MLSAAF Newest Study Updates:
Racial Socialization



First, what is racial socialization?


Racial socialization is the process that prepares racial minority children for the challenges of discrimination. Largely, there are two different types of racial socialization: preparation for bias and promotion of mistrust.


  1. Preparation of bias is about parents discussing racial discrimination or bias that might happen to their children.

  2. Promotion of mistrust refers to parents socializing their children to avoid engagement with people of other racial groups.


Racial socialization is increasingly being recognized as an important familial process for ethnic minority families, and for a long time has been understood as a protective factor for Asian American adolescents. However, not all types of racial socialization are helpful for Asian American adolescents—and not everyone benefits from the same type of racial socialization.


What has the MLSAAF team discovered?


A study by the MLSAAF team resolved one suspicion around racial socialization. It had been suspected that while racial socialization served as a protective factor, it negatively affected depressive symptoms of Asian American youth. 


Our study fine-tuned this view, showing that it is not racial socialization itself but the heightened perception of racial discrimination that increases mental distress among Asian American youth. As they become more aware of racial discrimination via racial socialization, Asian American youth perceive increased racial discrimination, which in turn leads to increased mental distress. 


So how is racial socialization a protective factor for Asian American youth?


Another ML-SAAF study revealed that racial socialization alleviates mental distress when youth perceive racial discrimination against them only in particular cases. Our study found that racial socialization buffers the negative effect of perceived racial discrimination only among U.S.-born Asian Americans. Also, the distress-alleviating effect of the promotion of mistrust on Asian American youth when they faced racial discrimination was only seen among Filipino youth. 


Importantly, our studies indicate that the use of racial socialization to minimize the negative impacts of discrimination on youth development is unlikely to be successful without careful consideration of nuanced differences between different Asian subgroups.

MLSAAF Study Results



The MLSAAF team is working hard to provide you with survey results. New survey results will be posted on this page regularly.

Defining Family Boundaries 

MLSAAF results show that Filipinos tend to think more expansively about family than Koreans. The majority of Filipino respondents chose all possible members listed in the survey as their family members, while most Koreans chose cousins to be the last members of their family. Click on the slideshow at the left for more results.

*Note: The results presented here correct a typo in the November newsletter (i.e., 4.49% and NOT 14.49% of youth participants chose parents and siblings as the boundary of their family members). Additionally, the data here presents both youth and parent responses, whereas the data in the November newsletter reflected only youth responses.

Language and Identity

Our study participants reported varying levels of comfort with English, Tagalog, and Korean. See this accompanying slide for how these comfort levels correlated with participants' sense of identity. Unless otherwise indicated, "participants" refers to both parent and youth. Click on the slideshow at the left for more results.

Demographic Information

Curious about our study participants?

Click on the slideshow at the left to see:

  • Percent of parents that are college graduates;

  • Percent of parents that work full-time;

  • Years in the U.S. for parents; and 

  • Religion of parents.

Data Collection Update

MLSAAF community outreach workers and interviewers have labored to recruit 1578 Filipino and Korean participants for this groundbreaking study. 

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