Becoming Americans: Stereotype threat effects in Afro-Caribbean immigrant groups
Two studies assessed stereotype threat in two generations of Afro-Caribbean immigrants. It was hypothesized that second-generation immigrants might be more likely to show performance decrements under race-based stereotype threat, given a presumed shift in the importance of one identity (i.e., West Indian) to another (i.e., African American) and the greater exposure to race-based prejudice in the second generation. In Study 1, students of West Indian origin completed a survey designed to measure the perceived favorability of stereotypes of West Indians and African Americans, the level of identification with each group, and expectations of discrimination. First-generation immigrants identified more strongly as West Indians and this generation believed that stereotypes of West Indians were more positive than second-generation immigrants. Both groups viewed stereotypes of African Americans as less favorable than stereotypes of West Indians. The two groups did not differ in their expectations of discrimination. Given that second-generation immigrants were less likely to emphasize their West Indian identity, it was hypothesized that they might be more susceptible to race-based stereotype threat. In Study 2, a set of first- and second-generation immigrant college students completed a test that was described as diagnostic of verbal abilities and limitations (stereotype threat) or part of an exercise in test development (control). The race of the experimenter was also varied, so that half of the students had a Black experimenter and the others had a White experimenter. Test performance was lower for the second-generation students under stereotype threat compared with the control condition, but it actually improved under stereotype threat for first-generation immigrants. In addition, first-generation immigrants performed better overall in the presence of a White experimenter, whereas second-generation students performed better with a Black experimenter. Taken together, these findings suggest that second-generation immigrants are more likely to identify as an African-American and show stereotype threat effects typically found among African American students. In contrast, first-generation immigrants were more likely to identify as West Indians and show stereotype lift resulting from positive perceived stereotypes associated with that identity.