Both, And: The Dichotomous Relationship Between the Model Minority Myth and Psychological Distress for South Asians in the United States

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Psychological distress is a prominent concern for South Asian individuals in the United States. Despite substantial research indicating that the model minority myth has numerous consequences with varying implications—including mental health implications—for Asian Americans, very little is known about its impact for South Asians. The present study used an embedded mixed-methods design to explore the relationship between internalization of the model minority myth and psychological distress for South Asians in the United States. Results indicated that South Asians experience mental health consequences of the myth in complex and dichotomous ways: they balance feelings of both pride and pressure related to being a model minority, as well as experiences of both privilege and marginalization in society. Findings also elucidated meaningful differences in experience between South Asian diasporic subgroups, highlighting the importance of considering multiple marginalization and other systemic factors in assessing the impact of the model minority myth.