While we delved into various frameworks, including the model minority myth, we chose to use the Distribution Effect to provide the basic and main foundation to structure our project. The initial research was done by Eagly et al. (1992) to discuss how this “distribution effect” aligns with women in the workplace. Niven (2005) coins the term and uses the findings from Eagly et al.’s research to discuss how Black football players (and athletes in general) have generally transcended their race—that is, their skin color is no longer a (big) factor in assessing the abilities of Black athletes in various sports.
As Niven discusses Black athletes using a framework originally created to discuss the experiences of women, we argue that this distribution effect is also very much palpable by Asian-American athletes. While many As-Am athletes have yet to transcend their race (e.g. Jeremy Lin), not only are many beginning to do so, but some already have in various sports, like figure skating.
A line of psychological research called the distribution effect suggests that when a group is in a distinct minority in a profession, then it is likely to be treated quite distinctly, but as the group becomes less rare in the profession, perceptions become more equitable… As the minority demographic group becomes more prevalent in a profession, however, the assumptions of inferiority and difference and the attention to demographics in general weaken. (Eagly et al., 1990; Niven, 2005)