Stereotype threat's effect on black students' academic achievement

August, 2011

Another study on the dramatic impact of stereotype threat on academic achievement, and how you can counter it.

In a two-part experiment, Black and White students studied the definitions of 24 obscure English words, and were later tested, in threatening or non-threatening environments. In the threatening study environment, students were told that the task would assess their "learning abilities and limitations" and "how well people from different backgrounds learn”. In the non-threatening environment, students were told that the study focused on identifying "different learning styles". When tested one to two weeks later, students were first given a low-stress warm-up exercise with half of the word definitions. Then, in order to evoke concerns about stereotypes, a test was given which was described as evaluating "your ability to learn verbal information and your performance on problems requiring verbal reasoning ability".

The effect of these different environments on the Black students was dramatic. On the non-threatening warm-up test, Black students who had studied in the threatening learning environment performed about 50% worse than Black students who had studied in the non-threatening environment. But on the ‘real’ test, for which stereotypes had been evoked, all the Blacks — including those who had done fine on the warm-up — did poorly.

In the second experiment, only Black students were involved, and they all studied in the threatening environment. This time, however, half of the students were asked to begin with a "value affirmation" exercise, during which they chose values that mattered most to them and explained why. The other students were asked to write about a value that mattered little to them. A week later, students did the warm-up and the test. Black students who had written about a meaningful value scored nearly 70% better on the warm-up than black students who had written about other values.

Reference: 

[2348] Taylor, V J., & Walton G. M.
(2011).  Stereotype Threat Undermines Academic Learning.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 37(8), 1055 - 1067.

Related News

Stressors in middle age linked to cognitive decline in older women

Data from some 900 older adults has linked stressful life experiences among middle-aged women, but not men, to greater memory decline in later life.

Survey data from 6,807 Danish older adults (average age 60) in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, has found that being distressed in late midlife is associated with a higher risk of dementia in later life.

Can you help protect yourself from the memory of traumatic events? A new study suggests that, by concentrating on concrete details as you live through the event, you can reduce the number of intrusive memories later experienced.

A study involving both mice and human cells adds to evidence that stress is a risk factor for Alzheimer's.

A study that followed 800 Swedish middle-aged women from 1968 to 2005 has found that high levels of stress in middle age increased Alzheimer’s risk by 21% and risk of any dementia by 15%.

A study involving 61 women, of whom 33 were chronically stressed caring for a spouse or parent with dementia, has found that highly stressed people who ate a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food were likely to have:

A study in which 157 healthy adult volunteers were asked to regulate their emotional reactions to unpleasant pictures, has found that those who showed greater brain activation when regulating their negative emotions also had higher blood levels of interleukin-6 (a marker for inflammation) and in

While it’s well-established that chronic stress has all sorts of harmful effects, including on memory and cognition, the judgment on brief bouts of acute stress has been more equivocal.

"The general consensus is that math anxiety doesn't affect children much before fourth grade.” New research contests that.

The issue of ‘chemo-brain’ — cognitive impairment following chemotherapy — has been a controversial one.

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news