Collaborative Research: Identity, Stereotype Threat, and Black College Student Success
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The proposed studies will explore, in depth, heterogeneity in the vulnerability of black college students to stereotype threat, and the way in which incentives can mitigate the impact of the threat. Stereotype threat occurs when members of a social group, in a given situation, feel themselves to be at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about their group and therefore perform less well, especially on important or difficult tasks. The study will contribute to knowledge about stereotype threat by identifying factors that contribute to or mitigate the threat and the consequences of stereotype threat vulnerability, and by developing a policy designed to combat its effects on black college students. It addresses one of the most important questions in the study of human capital investment today, which is why black students underperform and as a result are more likely to fail to complete a college degree. In this proposal the principal investigators plan a series of lab experimental studies that will explore the interaction between stereotype threat and two types of incentives: piece rates and prizes. The project will explore the relationship among a set of key factors that are likely to be responsible for the differences in vulnerability to stereotype threat, and carefully explore the impact of incentives and their interaction with stereotype threat. The proposal has high policy relevance because it can inform the development of interventions to enhance the performance of black students enrolled at institutions with varying demographic distributions.