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Stereotype Threat & Affirmative Action
June 30, 2003 8:39 AM   Subscribe

So the Dems love the latest Court ruling regarding Affirmative Action. A relatively new, but much discussed, theory called stereotype threat may have a profound affect upon newly renovated affirmative action policies within the US. Slightly more info. here.
posted by BlueTrain (20 comments total)

 
The way affirmative action is set up now.... giving minorities the advantage when applying for college is bullshit. Preference based on race is bullshit. The whole point of affirmative action is to help out students that come from poor communities where the school systems aren't as great, but just because you're a minority doesn't mean you're poor! I don't see why the hell they don't do it based on income, let the poor people go to college. That's my rant on the issue.
posted by banished at 9:00 AM on June 30, 2003


A relatively new, but much discussed, theory called trollery theory may have an unprofound affect upon discussion within the Metafilter. First post a link, then an assertion unsupported by the first or subsequent links. Object: to foster a flamefest on either the topic of affirmative action or, perhaps the phenomena of the pointless post. Slightly less information. here.
posted by y2karl at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2003


If comments consisted only of assertions supported by the links there wouldn't be much to comment about would there? I'm a democrat that disagrees with the official stance of my party, and so I commented. If anything, I think a post such as yours is more offensive because it is offtopic and begs my response, which although I am giving, is inappropriate in this venue. I don't wish to foster a flamefest either, I wish to invoke meaningful discussion, and I'm interested in getting feedback on my thoughts.
posted by banished at 9:29 AM on June 30, 2003


Take a look at the second link. There are, apparently, some significant disadvantages that come along with race, yet have nothing to do with economic status.
posted by squant at 10:13 AM on June 30, 2003


Your comment I did not see, banished. Twas the post--one five sentence CNN bulletin plus A relatively new, but much discussed, theory [here put link to article from August 1999] called stereotype threat may have a profound affect upon newly renovated affirmative action policies within the US., followed by link to 02/03 Psychological Monitor article with a very slight mention of the focus of the 08/99 Atlantic article--to which I object. The post has no content--it's merely a coathook upon which to hang well worn rags.

And the point to be discussed is... Hmm... Exactly what? Certainly it's a topic bound to generate reflective, well measured and meaningful commentary here, no doubt--just like all the thoughtful discussions we've had of the war in Iraq of late.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2003


Regardless of the agenda of the post, I found the article on "stereotype threat" quite interesting -- an old article, but new to me. Does anyone know if this theory had any waves in education research/policy since publication?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:28 AM on June 30, 2003


And the point to be discussed is... Hmm... Exactly what?

This isn't discussion-filter, y2karl. IMHO, the Atlantic article is an excellent link and discusses an important phenomenon. The reason for the CNN link is to relate the subject matter to recent events. I simply wanted to give MetaFilter a glimpse into my newest interest. BTW, y2karl, I'm a minority that benefits from affirmative action. Don't assume agendas.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:42 AM on June 30, 2003


I too found the article about stereotype threat to be quite worth a read. I'm going to be asking around my social psychology contacts to see what they make of it.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:45 AM on June 30, 2003


Fascinating article. I particularly liked how simple the remediation of the purported effect is-- simply make it explicit that it's ability being measured, and that it's independent of any other factor. Even if making such things explicit has no discernable effect on students, it can't hurt can it?
posted by Cerebus at 11:15 AM on June 30, 2003


Don't assume agendas.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:42 AM PST on June 30


You mean like this one?

So the Dems love the latest Court ruling regarding Affirmative Action.

Naa! No broad brush strokes there. Damn demonrats!
posted by nofundy at 11:21 AM on June 30, 2003


I don't see why the hell they don't do it based on income, let the poor people go to college

I think that is called "financial aid." And it is practiced far and wide.

I always thought the whole point of Affirmative Action was to proactively compensate for known societal ills or wrongs inflicted on minorites, often with the sanction of the state. History, friend. Slavery & segregation, left a legacy for us to deal with. Expecting those who still feel the effects to thrive in our so-called 'meritocracy' is a hypocritical and self-defeating POV.

The stereotype threat article seems to support the claim that there are psychic disadvantages to overcome as well as economic.
posted by scarabic at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2003


I'm a minority that benefits from affirmative action.

So is Clarence Thomas...
posted by xiffix at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2003


If there are racial stereotypes that are bringing these children down in school because they are making themselves fit into these stereotypes, letting minorities into universities when they may be less academically qualified seems like it would further perpetuate the stereotype. A.K.A. "you only got in here because you are black, asian, indian, or whatever"
posted by banished at 1:45 PM on June 30, 2003


banished... choosing to argue your points armed with logic is a unfortunate waste of time when it comes to this topic. But I certainly applaud your efforts.
posted by Witty at 2:25 PM on June 30, 2003


Yes Witty, the last thing we should do is try to understand why minorities score lower on the SATs even when all other factors are equal, and then try to correct things so that there really is a level playing field for all involved.
posted by Cerebus at 3:06 PM on June 30, 2003


I always thought the whole point of Affirmative Action was to proactively compensate for known societal ills or wrongs inflicted on minorites, often with the sanction of the state.

IIRC, didn't Bakke hold that that's not a valid reason under the Constitution?
posted by gyc at 3:11 PM on June 30, 2003


Affirmative action does not help Asians in university admissions, at least not at the top universities. The whole business about Asians not being an "underrepresented" minority, etc.

From the article:

Participation in these sessions reduced students' feelings of stereotype threat and improved grades. Why? Perhaps when members of one racial group hear members of another racial group express the same concerns they have, the concerns seem less racial.

The real solution to the stereotype threat is to stop identifying so strongly with one's race. Racial trust? I wonder how many of these students actually have friends outside of their race. If they did, these interracial mingling "sessions" would seem rather underwhelming.

I'm of the opinion that for any non-legally-discriminated group (such as gays), group identity and "pride" is inherently counterproductive in terms of their reception within society as a whole. Any inclusive force based on a preexisting criteria, such as race, exerts an equally exclusive counterforce, to the detriment of all involved.
posted by DaShiv at 3:33 PM on June 30, 2003


Yes Witty, the last thing we should do is try to understand why minorities score lower on the SATs even when all other factors are equal, and then try to correct things so that there really is a level playing field for all involved.

No, we should... I agree. I just don't agree with the way AA does it. I don't believe that you can correct 18 years (the approx. age of a new college student) of failed efforts, or lack thereof, by simply lowering the bar for admission, for example. All that does is justifies the "system" that the minority has been living in, while adding strength the idea that this person will receive the same treatment for the rest of time. Should a minority receive more social security, just because of the color of their skin?
posted by Witty at 12:42 AM on July 2, 2003


I'm glad you agree because the Atlantic article isn't about affirmative action, it's about 'stereotype threat' (that is SO crying out for a better name) and how it might be possible to mitigate it effectively.

Once mitigated, affirmative action becomes unnecessary (or at least, far less necessary). Until then, there needs to be some allowance for the idea that something like stereotype threat exists; failure to do so will simply reinforce the threat effect.
posted by Cerebus at 5:54 AM on July 2, 2003


banished: letting minorities into universities when they may be less academically qualified seems like it would further perpetuate the stereotype

Sigh ... again, for the record (per the cited Bowen & Bok book, which I highly recommend): 1. Only the most selective undergraduate schools use affirmative action in admissions. The vast majority of undergraduate schools take all qualified applicants without regard to race. 2. The differences between records of students who benefited from affirmative action and those who were admitted without it are generally small. Many people like to calculate these differences in "qualifications" by SAT and GPA, which is a controversial and potentially flawed method. 3. At the few selective undergraduate schools that use race in admissions, minorities are more likely to matriculate than minorities at non-race-selective schools. A.A. is NOT hurting them, statistically speaking. 4. At these selective undergraduate schools that use race in admissions, minorities are more likely to go on to graduate school, not only compared to minorities at non-race-selective schools but also compared to white students. 5. Also, the Bowen & Bok book shows many other indicators of the success of students who may have benefited from affirmative action.

Moreover, Steele and Aronson’s experiment at Stanford which looked for stereotype threat “statistically matched the [black and white] students in terms of ability”. Stanford is one of the selective schools Bowen & Bok researched, and Steele and Aronson appear to share their belief that the black admittees there are qualified and able. I guess what I’m getting at is this: affirmative action does not justify negative racial stereotypes. A.A. is not the root of the problem. The stereotypes existed before A.A. came into being, and many racial stereotypes persist independently of A.A. We still have a racist society that disadvantages certain minorities. I hope folks are saying, “Well, duh!” but I wonder sometimes. I’m not saying this to revel in white guilt but because I believe that unacknowledged, little-understood problems are harder to resolve. (what Cerebus said.)
posted by win_k at 4:03 PM on July 2, 2003


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