The relationship between cultural anxiety and ethnic essentialism: The mediating role of an endorsement of multicultural ideology

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Abstract

Many studies have explored the social consequences of ethnic essentialism in recent decades. In addition, a few studies have focused on the impact of perceived cultural context on ethnic essentialism. However, it is not clear why perceived cultural context can lead to changes in ethnic essentialism. In the present study, we hypothesized that the cultural anxiety of ethnic minorities may trigger a strong endorsement of and support for a multicultural ideology, thereby affecting beliefs about ethnic groups. To address the issue, 226 Tibetan and 102 Hui college students from Mainland China completed our questionnaires. The results across the two samples showed that (1) cultural anxiety was positively associated with both the endorsement of a multicultural ideology and ethnic essentialism, (2) cultural anxiety and the endorsement of a multicultural ideology positively predicted ethnic essentialism after controlling for demographic variables, and (3) cultural anxiety had both a direct effect on ethnic essentialism and an indirect effect on ethnic essentialism through the endorsement of a multicultural ideology. Our findings suggest that when ethnic minorities experience cultural anxiety, they might endorse a multicultural ideology and adopt essentialism to affirm their ethnic identities.

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Yang, X. L., Liu, L., Shi, Y. Y., Li, Y. S., Tan, X., Hu, X. M., & Sun, X. M. (2015). The relationship between cultural anxiety and ethnic essentialism: The mediating role of an endorsement of multicultural ideology. PLoS ONE, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141875

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