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stereotype threat consequences vulnerable situations mechanisms reduce criticisms unresolved issues
Cohen, Garcia, Apfel, & Master, 2006

This paper reports two field studies in which students were led to self-affirm to assess the consequences on academic performance. In these studies (separated by a year and comprised of a separate set of students), seventh grade students at a racially-diverse middle school in the Northeast U.S. were randomly assigned to self-affirm or not to self-affirm as part of a brief classroom exercise. Students who self-affirmed did so by indicating values that were important to them and writing a brief essay indicating why those values were important. For students who did not self-affirm, they indicated their least important values and wrote an essay regarding why those values might be important to others. The effects on academic performance during the semester were dramatic. African-American students who had been led to self-affirm performed .3 grade points better during the semester than those who had not, and those benefits occurred both in the class where the intervention took place as well as other classes. Moreover, benefits occurred regardless of pre-intervention levels of demonstrated ability. The self-affirmation intervention appears to have attenuated the drop in performance that typically occurs for African-American students over time.    

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