Research Outline

Anti-Asian Sentiment


To identify 3-6 drivers of the rising anti-Asian sentiment in the United States.
  • Support each driver with hard data and evidence.

Early Findings

The initial round of research indicates that there is a wealth of information available on this topic.

The Pandemic

  • Multiple sources state that anti-Asian harassment has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • A paper published by the University of Nevada notes that all Asian people are equally blamed for spreading the virus, regardless of their nationality. It also emphasizes that blaming Asians for the pandemic is only the metaphor of all things that Asian people allegedly took from white Americans such as jobs and better wages.
  • According to research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, attacks against people of Asian descent rose by 150% in 2020.
  • Stop AAPI Hate organization that tracks incidents of racism against Asian people reported 3,795 such incidents between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021. It believes that the actual number is much higher as most of the incidents aren't reported.
  • Additionally, a poll from Pew Research Center found that Asian-Americans were significantly more likely than other groups to fear that someone might threaten or attack them since the beginning of the pandemic. About one in four people of Asian descent responded positively to that statement, compared to one in five Black people and around one in ten white or Hispanic people.

Donald Trump's Rhetoric

  • According to a survey by Morning Consult, 53% of Asian-Americans believe that Donald Trump is very responsible for anti-Asian discrimination, while 16% think he is somewhat responsible.
  • The survey identified Trump as the person who should be blamed the most for the spike in anti-Asian bias.
  • Based on multiple sources, Trump likely caused a spike in anti-Asian bias after he started referring to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus."
  • Research by Anti-Defamation Language (ADL) shows that anti-Asian sentiment on Twitter rose by 85% after it was announced that Trump had COVID-19.
  • Furthermore, researchers from the University of California found that anti-Asian hashtags increased significantly after Trump first tweeted the term "the Chinese virus" in March 2020.
  • In the same month, 50% of the tweets with the hashtag "#chinesevirus" and 20% of the tweets with the hashtag "#covid19" displayed anti-Asian sentiment.
  • According to USAToday, the same research found that "the hashtags used in conjunction with #chinesevirus included expletives aimed at China, Chinese people and Asians in general as well as hashtags that advocated killing Chinese people, bombing Chinese cities as well as racist attacks on all things Asian."


  • The survey by Morning Consult also found that 25% of Asian-Americans think the media are very responsible for rising anti-Asian discrimination, while 39% think they are "somewhat responsible."
  • According to Global Times, US media are frequently blamed for fueling anti-Asian sentiment because of their anti-Chinese propaganda in recent years and their emphasis on the fact that COVID-19 has originated in China.
  • Fox News and The New York Times are two examples of media outlets that published biased content about China.
  • Furthermore, a research paper published in Health Education Behavior found that there was an 800% rise in the use of the phrase "the Chinese virus" and related terms in conservative media articles on March 8.
  • The shift in media tone can be linked to an increased bias against Asian-Americans since that time. Before, the bias had been declining steadily from 2007 through the beginning of 2020.

The "Model Minority" Myth

  • According to experts from USC Dornsife, University of Washington, and Forbes, among others, Asian-American people are always perceived as privileged compared to other people of color.
  • They tend to be seen as those who have overcome racism with economic and educational successes, which often results in overlooking the discrimination and bias against them.
  • At the same time, Americans don't realize the diversity of the Asian-American population. They don't see how many Asian-American people live in poverty, which makes them overlook the group that is the most exposed to harassment and bias.
  • A poll by PEW Research uncovered that 27% of Americans think that Asian people experience a lot of discrimination, 44% believe that Asians face some discrimination, 22% - only a little, and 7% - none at all.
  • According to a survey by Morning Consult, while 53% of white Democrats think Asians face a lot of discrimination, only 18% of white Republicans agree with that statement.


  • Within the first hour, we have been able to identify four of the key drivers of the anti-Asian sentiment in the US, which are the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump's stigmatizing language, the media, and the "model minority" myth.
  • According to the early research, there is more in-depth information available on each of the key drivers. It will also likely be possible to identify additional drivers.