Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small interventions can alleviate underperformance caused by stereotype threat

Date:
August 4, 2011
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Picture black and white students at an Ivy League college learning about black students who are a year or so ahead of them in that school. They're told that the older black students were anxious about fitting in and how they would be viewed in college when they first arrived. But as the older black students got more involved in campus life, they began to find the school rewarding, even exciting as their life course took shape.

Picture black and white students at an Ivy League college learning about black students who are a year or so ahead of them in that school. They're told that the older black students were anxious about fitting in and how they would be viewed in college when they first arrived. But as the older black students got more involved in campus life, they began to find the school rewarding, even exciting as their life course took shape.

Related Articles


"For the black kids who were given this narrative, their [grade point] averages in the next semester were a third of a letter grade higher than those of black students not given this information," according to social psychologist Claude M. Steele, PhD, reporting recent research by Gregory Walton, PhD, and Geoffrey Cohen, PhD. "And these better grades, in comparison to the control group, persisted for three years, a follow-up study showed -- a big and lasting effect on real-life grades resulting from a single exposure to information that allowed these students to develop a personal narrative about their college as a place where they belonged and felt safe."

This is the type of scenario Steele planned to discuss in his keynote address at the American Psychological Association's 119th Annual Convention on Aug. 4. Steele, who was recently named dean of the School of Education at Stanford University, has spent decades studying a phenomenon he calls stereotype threat -- the surprisingly strong effect that being the target of negative stereotypes can have on important performances, such as tests and school performance -- as well as ways that these effects can be prevented and reduced.

Steele, the outgoing provost of Columbia University, has published groundbreaking research showing the undermining effect that stereotype threat can have on the test and school performance of groups whose abilities in these areas are negatively stereotyped. (Other researchers have shown that stereotype threat can also undermine athletic performance.)

One classic experiment by Steele & Aronson, published in 1995 in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (Vol. 65, No. 5) found that black students' performance deteriorated on a variety of tests when they believed that the tests measured their intellectual abilities. This put them at risk of confirming the negative stereotype about their group's abilities. But the students' performance on the same tests rebounded dramatically when they were told the tests were merely laboratory tasks unrelated to abilities. The reason for this effect, Steele found, is that the first condition caused black students to spend brainpower suppressing worry about confirming or being seen to confirm the negative group stereotype.

As part of his APA keynote, Steele planned to talk about "small interventions that have big effects in reducing the impact of stereotype threat in our personal lives and in schools and work places."

"I'm going to argue that effective interventions have the common effect of helping people sustain a realistic but hopeful narrative about their life, their world, their situation, that is less threatening," he said in an interview. "What these interventions do is reduce the performance-interfering anxiety and vigilance that goes with living under the pressure of negative stereotypes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Small interventions can alleviate underperformance caused by stereotype threat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804180301.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2011, August 4). Small interventions can alleviate underperformance caused by stereotype threat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804180301.htm
American Psychological Association. "Small interventions can alleviate underperformance caused by stereotype threat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804180301.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) Police have arrested 118 people in an unprecedented globally-coordinated swoop on plane ticket credit card fraud, a billion-dollar organised crime industry, officials said Friday. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Privacy regulators recommend Google expand its requested removals to apply to all its web domains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins