Stereotype threat and college academic performance: A latent variables approach

Jayanti Owens, Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stereotype threat theory has gained experimental and survey-based support in helping explain the academic underperformance of minority students at selective colleges and universities. Stereotype threat theory states that minority students underperform because of pressures created by negative stereotypes about their racial group. Past survey-based studies, however, are characterized by methodological inefficiencies and potential biases: key theoretical constructs have only been measured using summed indicators and predicted relationships modeled using ordinary least squares. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman, this study overcomes previous methodological shortcomings by developing a latent construct model of stereotype threat. Theoretical constructs and equations are estimated simultaneously from multiple indicators, yielding a more reliable, valid, and parsimonious test of key propositions. Findings additionally support the view that social stigma can indeed have strong negative effects on the academic performance of pejoratively stereotyped racial-minority group members, not only in laboratory settings, but also in the real world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-166
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Research
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Academic under-performance
  • African Americans
  • Hispanics
  • Racial gaps
  • Stereotype threat

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