The Role of Self-Affirmation: Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat in Middle Schools
Research has shown that a process known as stereotype threat causes individuals in stigmatized groups to perform less well in academics due to fear of confirming a negative stereotype about their group. The present study examined the role of self-affirmation as a method of stereotype threat intervention for students in middle school. In the experiment 182 participants were assigned to either the self-affirmation condition or the non-self affirmation condition. Participants in the self-affirmation condition completed self affirming questionnaires prior to taking four exams throughout the school year. It was hypothesized that participants in the self-affirmation condition would perform better on exams in that they were able to affirm their sense of self-adequacy by completing questionnaires about values that were important to them. There was a significant improvement in the African American students' grades after the self-affirmation treatment. The importance of stereotype threat intervention beginning at an early age is discussed.