Journal Article: Social Class is Dead. Long Live Social Class! Stereotype Threat among Low Socioeconomic Status Individuals


ACHIEVEMENT gap, STUDENTS -- Psychology, SOCIAL classes, STANDARDIZED tests, SOCIAL status, STEREOTYPES (Social psychology), GRE, Social class, Socioeconomic status, Standardized testing, Stereotype threat


Spencer, Bettina; Castano, Emanuele




Springer Science & Business Media B.V.


Stereotype threat effects occur when members of a stigmatized group perform poorly on a task because they fear confirming a negative stereotype that is associated with their ingroup. The present study investigates whether the observed achievement gap in standardized testing between high- and low-socioeconomic status (SES) American students can be due, in part, to this phenomenon. Participants were placed in one of four conditions that varied in level of “threat” related to socioeconomic status. Results show that when socioeconomic identity is made salient before taking a test, or when the test is presented as diagnostic of intelligence, low-SES students perform significantly worse, and report much lower self-confidence, than low-SES participants in the non-threatening conditions. When threatening conditions converge, performance of low-SES students is at its worst level. These results help us better understand the role stereotyping plays in the academic performance of low-SES students, and may partly explain the disparity on standardized test scores between low- and high-SES students. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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