Racial stereotypes hurt academic performances
December 4, 2001 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Racial stereotypes hurt academic performances --on standardized tests--for whites.
posted by antimarx (21 comments total)
This reminds me of cancer: Somewhere or another, some doctor or scientist has said that something causes cancer. If you follow everything all doctors and scientists say to avoid cancer, then you would do nothing and eat nothing. By the same token, Somewhere or another, every expert or study has said that every form of education and test is discrimitory towards someone. White, black, asian, martian, it has been said that the race is hurt in some way in school. OK, nothing exciting here, just my $0.02
posted by jmd82 at 9:44 PM on December 4, 2001

That's not exactly what I got out of the article, jmd82. I thought it was pretty interesting that white students can do worse on tests just by thinking about stereotypes of others--in this case, African Americans. Stereotype threat is an accepted idea in social psychology, but most people assumed it was limited to people of the stereotyped group.

I've always wondered if the reverse was true--if thinking about an academicaly positive stereotype would help someone do well on a test. I tried it on my MCAT this summer. Who knows if it worked or not.
posted by gramcracker at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2001

This is interesting but the article is so badly written that I can't determine just *how* interesting. I know a lot of you folk out there are much better at searches than I am.... Please? is the actual paper/study on line somewhere I could read it? [Yoohoo, Carol Anne? You're good at this and I'm not and I'd appreciate any further information.]
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:03 PM on December 4, 2001

jmd82--did you read the article or just take a stab at a comment?
posted by antimarx at 10:11 PM on December 4, 2001

im an equal oppurtunity discriminator. i hate you all.
posted by Satapher at 10:29 PM on December 4, 2001

Why is "Tyrone" such a black name?
posted by sudama at 10:34 PM on December 4, 2001

i did read it, but apperantly i have NO reading comprehension 2nite. my brain is fried from school. i'll read it tomarrow after a night's sleep to rid myself of stupidity
posted by jmd82 at 10:34 PM on December 4, 2001

Here's the abstract... and you can buy the pdf for $35.00, but thinking about the stereotypical apathy of today's youth has negatively impacted my ability to care that much.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:47 PM on December 4, 2001

"It sounds strange, but people who think about stereotypes of other groups may act in ways that are consistent with that stereotype - even if they are not part of that stereotyped group,"

I have a startling new theory...racists are dumb?!?!
posted by mcsweetie at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2001

Why is "Tyrone" such a black name?

I don't have any numbers, but I'm willing to bet when someone hears the name "Tyrone" they're pretty safe in assuming the person is black. Much like I'd assume someone named Chad is white. Hell, I'd usually be pretty safe in assuming someone named Oliver is white, of course when I write a check I'm wrong. But that's definitely an exception.

There are many names that are overwhelmingly one race or another. How many white females do you know named Shaniqua?
posted by owillis at 11:08 PM on December 4, 2001

Well, it wasn't always considered a "black" name, owliss. (Actually, I believe it's Irish in its origins, but definitely not sure.) It would be interesting to hear how it became so common among blacks, though, to the point where the bud of the guy being addressed a certain Erykah Badu song could come to be seen as, y'know, Any Average Black American Man. It wouldn't have had the intended effect if called, say, "Oliver."
posted by raysmj at 11:43 PM on December 4, 2001

There's a chapter on the culture of black names (from Alexicor to Zikkiyyia) in The Language of Names. (My favorite names from the book were pen names used by Sam Clemens in addition to Mark Twain: W. Apaminondas Adrastus Blab, Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, and Sergeant Fathom.)

Also in the book: "Now why did you name your baby John? Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is named John." (attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, who changed his last name from Goldfish)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:03 AM on December 5, 2001

So what does this indicate? That white people who are racist are also less intelligent? Sorry, but what's the surprising breakthrough here?
posted by Poagao at 12:10 AM on December 5, 2001

Poagao: No, that's exactly not what this indicates. Even those students who scored low on the racist test scored lower on the main test when they had been thinking about Tyrone and not Erik. It shows who easy it is to manipulate people, or how much of our performance is governed by factors we can control.

I personally find it a little bit scary to see how all of us could be manipulated like that.
posted by salmacis at 1:37 AM on December 5, 2001

heh I know of twin brothers named Eric and Tyrone.
posted by gyc at 2:23 AM on December 5, 2001

The more that the name conjures up stereotypical thoughts among the students, the more effective it will be in influencing their behavior, Petty said. For example, the researchers found that students who wrote about Tyrone did worse on the math test if their essays contained high levels of stereotypical content about Tyrone. "One strong stereotype is that African Americans are more likely to be athletes, and that athletes tend to be poor students," Petty said. "Participants who said that Tyrone was an athlete, or who included other stereotypes, did worse on the math test."

Participants in one of the experiments were specifically asked at the end of the experiment to indicate the race of the person they wrote about. Those who indicated Tyrone was an African American did worse on the math test than those who did not.

In other words, those who were more prone to stereotype did worse on the test. What am I missing, besides the unexplained "racist test"?
posted by Poagao at 3:40 AM on December 5, 2001

The article's title is "Think Unto Others: The Self-Destructive Impact of Negative Racial Stereotypes." The Golden Rule should be expanded to:
"Do and think unto others as you would have them do and think unto you."
posted by Carol Anne at 5:09 AM on December 5, 2001

"Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself."
William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, Act 1, scene 1
posted by Carol Anne at 5:45 AM on December 5, 2001

Hmm.. yeah, I can see the rusults for this, but can't it just be that those that chose Tyrone to be an african-american athlete that did bad in school are less inteligent? Certainly there are better things to write, which could indicate basic lack of a imagination that's linked to them not doing their own school work or studying much or having general interest in school or writing.

What would happen if all of the test subjects were african-americans and were given two "white" names? One skippy and the other Stephen? Would the results be the same or?
posted by tiaka at 6:34 AM on December 5, 2001

tiaka: Stephen? There are definitely black men named Stephen (as you can tell on Google, sometimes people mistake "Stephen" for "Stepin," though - as in Fetchit, a stereotype based on actual person).

Anyway, how about Geoff or Chip?
posted by raysmj at 6:54 AM on December 5, 2001

I would be far more inclined to be interestedin this study had the examiners simply given all the subjects a similar math test prior to the essay and then compared the pre- and post- essay results.
posted by anastasiav at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2001

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