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Presumed competent, U.S. Asians evince exceptional educational outcomes but lack the cultural pedigree of elite whites that safeguard them from bias in the labor market. In spite of their nonwhite minority status, Asians also lack the legacy of disadvantage of blacks that make them eligible beneficiaries of affirmative action. Their labor market disadvantage coupled with their exclusion from affirmative action programs place Asians in a unique bind: do they support policies that give preferences to blacks but exclude them? Given their self- and group interests, this bind should make Asians unlikely to do so. We assess whether this is the case by comparing their attitudes to those of whites, blacks, and Hispanics. Drawing on a novel three-way framing experiment embedded in the 2016 National Asian American Survey, we document how the “mere mention of Asians” in affirmative action frames affects support for the preferential hiring and promotion of blacks. Support shifts in different ways among all groups depending on the mere mention of Asians as either victims of affirmative action alongside whites or as victims of discrimination alongside blacks. Moreover, among Asians, support for affirmative action differs significantly by immigrant generation: first-generation Asians express the weakest support.


This article was originally published in Sociological Science, available at

This work is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).



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