Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 831–846 | Cite as

Ethnic Microaggressions and the Depressive and Somatic Symptoms of Latino and Asian American Adolescents

  • Virginia W. Huynh
Empirical Research


Ethnic microaggressions are a form of everyday, interpersonal discrimination that are ambiguous and difficult to recognize as discrimination. This study examined the frequency and impact of microaggressions among Latino (n = 247) and Asian American (n = 113) adolescents (M age = 17.18, SD = .75; 57 % girls). Latino adolescents reported more frequent microaggressions that dismiss their realities of discrimination and microaggressions characterized by treatment as a second class citizen than Asian Americans, but similar levels of microaggressions that highlight differences or foreignness. There were no ethnic differences in the extent to which adolescents were bothered by microaggressions. Moreover, even supposedly innocuous forms of discrimination are associated with elevated levels of anxiety, anger, and stress, which may increase feelings of depression and sickness. Microaggressions should be recognized as subtle discrimination that send messages about group status and devaluation, and similar to overt discrimination, can evoke powerful emotional reactions and may affect mental health.


Microaggressions Discrimination Asian Latino Anger 



Support for this study was provided by a grant from the Foundation for Psychocultural Research UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. Preparation of this manuscript was supported by the University of California, Los Angeles Dissertation Year Fellowship. The author is grateful for the participation and support from the schools and families involved in this project.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child & Adolescent DevelopmentCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA

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