Domain identification predicts Black students underperformance on moderately-difficult tests

Stereotype threat has been shown to most strongly affect individuals who strongly identify with a stereotyped domain and attempt difficult domain-relevant tasks. This study investigated the link between Black students domain identification and their performance on a test that was only moderately difficult. Black undergraduates (N = 68) provided answers to 26 moderately-difficult problems from the verbal Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) under threat or no threat conditions. In the stereotype threat condition, students were told that the test would provide information about the students strengths and weaknesses, and that the experimenter would provide feedback. In the no threat, non-diagnostic condition, students were told that the test was about problem-solving styles and approaches, and not about the number of correct answers. Results demonstrated that students high in domain identification performed more poorly on this moderately difficult test under stereotype threat. Students low in domain identification performed equally well in threat and no threat conditions. Overall, these results demonstrate that students who are negatively stereotyped and high in domain identification risk underperforming in a threat context, even on relatively unchallenging tasks.

Lawrence, J. S., Marks, B. T., & Jackson, J. S. (2010). Domain identification predicts Black students underperformance on moderately-difficult tests. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 105-109.

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