On Interpreting Stereotype Threat as Accounting for African American-White Differences on Cognitive Tests

Paul R Sackett, Chaitra M. Hardison, Michael J Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations

Abstract

C. M. Steele and J. Aronson (1995) showed that making race salient when taking a difficult test affected the performance of high-ability African American students, a phenomenon they termed stereotype threat. The authors document that this research is widely misinterpreted in both popular and scholarly publications as showing that eliminating stereotype threat eliminates the African American-White difference in test performance. In fact, scores were statistically adjusted for differences in students' prior SAT performance, and thus, Steele and Aronson's findings actually showed that absent stereotype threat, the two groups differ to the degree that would be expected based on differences in prior SAT scores. The authors caution against interpreting the Steele and Aronson experiment as evidence that stereotype threat is the primary cause of African American-White differences in test performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

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