The moderating role of ethnic identity and social support on relations between well-being and academic performance

This correlation study tracked academic performance of White and ethnic minority college students over the course of their first year at a predominantly White Canadian institution. A battery of measures were administered at the beginning, middle, and end of the students' first year, and students' grades were collected. Overall (and consistent with the presence of stereotype threat for minorities), ethnic minority students showed stronger ethnic identity, but also higher levels of avoidance goals and lower levels of perceived institutional academic support. Over the course of the year, minority students showed more pronounced increases in depression and anxiety compared with White students, and end-of-year grades were lower on average for minority than for Whites students. Higher levels of anxiety and depression at mid-year predicted lower grades for only minority students, and stronger ethnic identity predicted poorer performance for minority but not White students. Higher levels of social support produced improvements in the grades of ethnic minority students (but did not affect Whites). These results are suggestive that stereotype threat experienced over the course of the first year in college can affect performance of ethnic minority students. Ethnic minority students showed greater psychological distress as the year progressed, and distress harmed academic performance. The strength of ethnic identification and degree of social support strengthened and attenuated these effects, respectively.

Cole, B., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2007). The moderating role of ethnic identity and social support on relations between well-being and academic performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 592-615.

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