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2007 January 31 Wednesday
Students With Higher Scores Behave Better

Asians who do best in American schools are not prone to bad behavior.

The popular stereotype of Asian Pacific Island (API) teenagers that portrays them as high achievers who are also prone to bad behavior, is false, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The examination of a major survey of more than 13,000 teenagers showed that a student’s grade point average is a strong predictor of behavior for Asian-American youth as well as for other youth. The study is the first to examine the relationship between behavior and grade point averages across ethnic groups, although there have been other studies that have shown in general that students with good grades also are more likely to stay out of trouble.

Of course GPA correlates with IQ. Higher IQ kids and adults behave better and commit fewer crimes. Partly this is due to the ability of the intellect to suppress impulses. Partly it is due to the ability of the intellect to simulate and understand the effects that one's behavior has on others. But also it comes from a greater ability to project and see how one's actions can harm one's own prospects.

In all ethnic groups studied the smarter kids were better behaved on average than the dumber ones.

Among Hispanics, African-American and white young people as well as API youth, students with high grade point averages report many fewer problems with crime, pregnancy and alcohol abuse, according to the paper “Academic Achievement and Problem Behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American Adolescents” published in the current issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

In some cases, grade point average (GPA) was a particularly strong predictor of behavior for Asian American students. For instance, 22 percent of API girls with a “D” average GPA reported having been pregnant, while five percent of white youth whose GPA was “D” average reported having been pregnant, Choi found. Among API youth with an “A” grade point average, two percent reported having been pregnant while four percent of the white girls with that grade point average reported having been pregnant.

At first glance these results suggest that Asian behavior varies more as a function of level of intelligence. Do dumber Asians behave worse than dumber whites while smarter Asians behave better than smarter whites? Or does this result come from a pooling of results of disparate Asian groups into a single category that hides a lot of differences between, say, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and so on?

Do Vietnamese especially have a larger standard of deviation in behavior?

The stereotype of API young people which characterizes them as being simultaneously high achieving and prone to delinquent behavior comes from academic studies that look at group behavior rather than individual behavior, Choi said. Asian-American young people are the highest academically achieving ethnic group in the country. At the same time, some API young people exhibit criminal behavior.

“For example, Vietnamese youth earned the highest grades among student samples in a San Diego study published in 1997. At the same time, they were the fourth-largest group on probation, following Hispanic, white, and black youth in California and their probation rates increased 67 percent between 1990 and 1995, according to another study” she said.

Or do these results come from lumping together ethnic Vietnamese with ethnic Chinese who also came from Vietnam to the United States?

See here or here for a table showing how white males do at different levels of IQ. 7% of white males below 90 IQ have been incarcerated for example. Above 125 IQ the percentage ever incarcerated drops below 1%. I'd like to see an equivalent table for a large variety of racial and ethnic groups.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 January 31 09:12 PM  Ethnic Differences

Joe said at February 1, 2007 12:34 PM:

My guess is that the "D" students were mostly southeast Asians. The "A"s tend
to be Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

The large SD among Vietnamese can likely be attributed to their community's
unique composition. The initial waves of immigrants were mainly educated or
involved in business and mainly Chinese. Later waves included more commoners
off the street. So we're seeing the Vietnamese shift from a model minority to
more of an underclass minority as the commoners start to dominate the immigrant

(Vicente) Fox Hound said at February 2, 2007 5:22 AM:

When it comes to crime and intelligence, the articles also overlook the nature of crimes. Those with higher IQ's are simply not going to engage in what I like to think of as "anarchistic" types of crimes like murder, rape, armed robbery, etc...crimes that make the average citizen live in fear. A higher IQ man who commits a crime is far more likely to commit a crime like fraud, embezzling, corruption...something "white collar." While I'd never claim it is harmless, as evidenced by the Enron case, it doesn't cause people to leave in fear.

perroazul del norte said at February 2, 2007 8:31 AM:

Cambodians and Hmong seem to be the bottom of the barrel when it comes to SE Asians. Numerous links could be provided if I thought it were necessary.

Kenny said at February 6, 2007 2:06 AM:

I don't think Joe could be more wrong if he edited his comments. While it is true that most of the first wave of Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon in 1975 were more educated and came with their family intact, the second wave in the 1980s were mostly of the business class from the South (historically there has always existed a cultural divide between the people of the north and south).

This second wave included a lot of so called ethnic Chinese but mostly those confined to Saigon. They were pressure to leave as the result of China's invasion of Vietnam in 1979 and persecution from the Communist regime. It is the Southern Vietnamese who came in the seond wave (so called "boat people")that they have given the very identity and awareness of the Vietnamese community across America with their small buinesses shops in most of the "international Districts" across America.

Needless to say, all Vietnamese are of Chinese ancestry so the distinction being ethnic is blur because most of the Vietnamese in the rural and smaller cities in Vietnam are well assimilated and are usually Chinese other than Cantonese. My argument is based on the fact that Chinese's culture is patrialineage and the fact that ALL Vietnamese's last name are just variations of spellings..much in the same way that Wong is usually Cantonese spelling and Wang is Mandarin in form but both are the same pronounciation. The equilavent for this is Huynh (South) and Hoang (North). A good soure is a list produce on Wikipedia under "common Chinese surname".

The biggest problem you have is that in almost all cases....Vietnamese are lump with other Southeast Asian when Vietnamese's culture is Chinese based while the Thai, Laos, and Cambodians are culturally and biologically different...this appplies are far as even the different sect of Budhism. This is a result of the French colonial pratice. Vietnam was not even a country officially before World War I and by then most Vietnamese were still reading and writing in Hanyu Pinyin (Chinese characters).

Lastly, the GPA study was published in 1997. Most of these were children of family who came in the 1980s.The recent wave were mostly children of Amerasian descent, participants in the UN ODP program, or mostly Northern Vietnamese who came here for economic reasons versus those in the 198os who came here seeking politcal asylum. This is the reason why Canada, particularly Vancouver has such a high concentration of Northern Viets who were denied entry but made their to Hong Kong due to proximity and were admitted because of the lax immigration laws and HK being a former British Colony.

Keith said at June 13, 2007 10:20 PM:

With due respect to Kenny, the surname of the Chinese "Wang" or "Wong" is synonym to "Vuong". Vietnamese surname "Hoang" or "Huynh" is equivalent to "Hwang" or "Huang" in the Chinese dialect. It's true that most Vietnamese are descendant of Chinese, but there is also a mixture of those of those Malay-Polynesian (i.e. Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia or Thailand descendant) due to the invading of their territories in the past, at aprroximately early 16th century. Mainly the mixture is from the southern region of Vietnam; however, there was a mass of Chinese immigrant to this region during the 16th century due to the fall of the Ming's dynasty. These Chinese were the people who found Saigon, presently known as Ho Chi Minh City, by the cotton plantation. Today's Vietnamese Majority is a southern Mongoloid race rather than Malay-polynesian, the same race as those from Southern China.

Ben said at June 30, 2008 2:34 PM:

The Vietnamese people are not derived from China. Period. There is such a thing called a history book. Please put one in your hands and read. The names may be translatable, but that is not an only indicator of lineage. It has occurred in history again and again that surnames are changeable, ie. African slaves, the Nguyen dynasty, to name a couple. Someone indicated that the first wave of professionals are Chinese: well, he can't be more wrong. They are Vietnamese people who worked for the US government as well as educated elites of Vietnamese ancestry. Many Chinese living in Vietnam were engaged in business but had poor/no education. Large numbers of Chinese could not read or write in Vietnamese, as they focused on trade for a living.

Ben said at June 30, 2008 2:37 PM:

To Joe:

If you are only guessing, please refrain from posting. Thanks.

Baphomet said at January 6, 2012 5:38 AM:


lol... Nguyen dynasty! Nguyễn = Yuan (阮)

Vietnamese name break down by population, from Lê Trung Hoa, Họ Và Tên Người Việt Nam (Vietnamese Family and Personal Names), Social Sciences Publishing House (2005)
Nguyễn 阮 (39%)
Trần 陳 (11%)
Lê 黎 (9.5%)
Phạm 范 (7.1%)
Huỳnh/Hoàng 黃 (5.1%)
Phan 潘 (4.5%)
Vũ/Vơ 武 (3.9%)
Đặng 鄧(2.1%)
Bùi 裴 (2%)
Đỗ 杜 (1.4%)
Hồ 胡 (1.3%)
Ngô 吳 (1.3%)
Dương 楊 (1%)
Lư 李 (0.5%)

Just these 15 Chinese lineages account for more than 90% of the Vietnamese population, that's not even including other Chinese lineages.
Bành: 彭
Cao: 高
Châu: 周
Chu: 周 or 朱
Chung: 鍾
Diệp: 葉
Dương: 楊
Đàm: 譚
Đào: 陶
Đinh: 丁
Đoàn: 段
Giang: 江
Hà: 何
Hàn: 韓
Kiều: 喬
Kim: 金
La: 羅
Lạc: 駱
Lâm: 林
Liễu (in northern or central regions): 柳
Lục: 陸
Lương: 梁
Lưu (in central or southern regions): 劉
Mă: 馬
Mạch: 麥
Mai: 梅
Nghiêm: 嚴
Phó: 傅
Phùng: 馮
Quách: 郭
Quang: 光
Quyền: 權
Tạ: 謝
Thạch: 石
Thái/Sái: 蔡
Thi: 施
Thân:屍 (All were known to have died out centuries ago)
Tiêu: 蕭
Tô: 蘇
Tôn: 孫
Trang: 莊
Triệu: 趙
Trịnh: 鄭 (almost exclusively a northern surname, based around Thanh Hóa)
Trương: 張
Văn: 文
Vĩnh: 永
Vương: 王
Vưu: 尤
Vietnam was a colony of China for over 800 years. Period. There is such a thing called a history book. Please put one in your hands and read. Of course, before the Chinese came to Vietnam, the natives had no written language!

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