The effects of demographic variables and stereotype threat on black/white differences in cognitive ability test performance
This study investigated whether demographic variables and stereotype threat might account for performance deficits on the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) task, a nonverbal test of cognitive ability. White and Black undergraduates completed the APM after being told either that it was diagnostic (stereotype threat for Blacks) or non-diagnostic (control) of intellectual ability. Black students reported feeling more stereotype threat and their performance was negatively affected in the former condition. Feelings of stereotype threat appeared to partially mediate the relation between task framing and performance. Fathers', but not mothers', education level had an independent effect on performance, with children of well-educated fathers performing better than children of fathers with less education. Family income produced a marginal effect on APM performance. These results show that stereotype threat and other important variables involving one's background can affect performance on a relatively "culture-free" test of cognitive ability.