Journal Article: Beyond the Laboratory: Evaluating the Survey Evidence for the Disidentification Explanation of Black-White Differences in Achievement


Education, Social Science, Student achievements, Race differences, Self esteem, Self perception


Morgan, Stephen L.; Mehta, Jal D.


2004, January


The black-white gap in achievement, as measured by performance on standardized tests, has received considerable attention from researchers in the past five years. Claude Steele's stereotype threat and disidentification mechanism is perhaps the most heralded of the new explanations for residual racial differences that persist after adjustments for social background are performed. Analyzing data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, we found qualified support for portions of the disidentification explanation. Black students' academic self-evaluations are more weakly associated with their measured academic performances, a difference that could stem from stereotype threat or a belief that the evaluations are racially biased. But this discounting of performance evaluations does not seem to provoke a more complete disidentification with the schooling process or with academic achievement in general. The findings suggest that there is no clear path from being stereotyped to disidentifying, and in conclusion we discuss alternative explanations for why it may be so. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.


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