Document Type

Honors Paper


Jefferson SInger

Publication Date



Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States with Chinese Americans being the largest group within the Asian American community (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016; Pew Research Center, 2017). Previous research has found evidence that there is a reluctance in the Chinese-American community to seek mental health services due to a fear of stigma and a tendency to define psychiatric conditions in physical rather than psychological terms. Whether these tendencies differ across generations is another question to explore. This thesis looked at both Chinese-American ethnicity and participants’ age as potential influences on attitudes toward mental health treatment. One hundred and seventy participants (40 Chinese American students–CA; 50 Non-Chinese American students–NCA; 40 Chinese American 50+–CA–50+; and 40 Non-Chinese American 50+–NCA-50+) read four vignettes (two depression and two social anxiety) before they completed a ten-item scale that examined their attitudes toward mental health treatment. Participants also filled out an Asian Values Scale that yielded two factors, Conformity to Family and Societal Norms and Humility. As predicted, CA participants displayed greater reluctance to engage with mental health treatment in both the depression and social anxiety vignettes. CA participants, regardless of age, were less treatment oriented and more in favor of viewing the psychological disorders as physical issues and under individual control, compared to their NCA counterparts. Conformity to Asian values played a mediating role in mental health attitudes, particularly for the CA college-aged students. Future research might explore different attitudes within the Chinese-American community toward additional psychological disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.