Scapegoating Theory and Anti-Asian Discrimination During COVID-19: A Longitudinal Study (78345)

Session Information: Psychology, Mental Health & COVID-19
Session Chair: Charles Liu

Thursday, 28 March 2024 10:30
Session: Session 1
Room: Room 604
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

During the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., over 11,000 acts of anti-Asian hate and discrimination have been reported. The theory of Displaced Aggression or Scapegoating is one potential explanation for the upsurge of racial discrimination in the context of this crisis. Under the Frustration-Aggression hypothesis framework, if the source of stress feels insurmountable or intangible (e.g. a life-threatening virus), people tend to displace their helplessness, frustration, and aggression onto a more accessible substitute target. Few studies have studied the factors for endorsement of racist attitudes in real world conditions caused by feelings of helplessness or the role of ethnocentrism in a longitudinal model. Our study utilized a longitudinal online U.S. sample of White participants (n=353) recruited initially in June 2020 (Time 1) with follow up in November 2020 (Time 2).

Our results indicate that perceived feelings helplessness (Time 1) mediated the relationship between COVID-related life changes (e.g. restriction of movement, occupational and financial stressors, children and elderly related stressors during Time 1) and anti-Asian racial attitudes (Time 2) but only when ethnocentrism as a moderator was present. This mediation effect was conditional on the level of ethnocentrism, such that the indirect pathway was only significant for those who exhibited moderate and high levels of ethnocentrism but not for those who exhibited low levels of ethnocentrism. Our study supports the Scapegoating Theory in understanding the surge of Anti-Asian racial attitudes during COVID-19 and provides evidence beyond experimental studies for the external validity of Scapegoating Theory in real life.

Charles Liu, Wheaton College, United States
Tao Liu, Independent Scholar, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Charles Liu is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at Wheaton College in United States

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00