The Negative Impact of Positive Stereotyping: Relationship Between Positive Stereotypes, Perceived Competence and Perceived Potential for Leadership

Megan Chan


For many years, Asian Americans have been positively stereotyped as the most successful racial group in America. Yet, very few Asian Americans occupy top leadership positions. This research investigates how positive stereotyping affects managers’ perception towards Asian Americans’ level of competence and potential for leadership. I conducted a scenario study with a sample of 315 people working and residing in the United States. These participants assumed the role of decisions makers and were presented with information about job applicants where the variable data (i.e. race) was manipulated. Based on the differences in ratings on Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans, I found that Asian Americans continue to be positively stereotyped in workplaces. They were also perceived to be more competent, and contrary to my hypothesis, were considered to have a higher potential for leadership compared to White Americans. This study sheds light on the impact of positive stereotyping and provides implications on managers’ role in promoting organizational health through biases elimination and inclusion efforts.