Dual identity as a two-edged sword: Identity threat and minority school performance

Gülseli Baysu*, Karen Phalet, Rupert Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Some members of ethnic minority groups respond to identity threat in ways that are detrimental to their school career, while others persist despite an unwelcoming school environment. It was hypothesized that ethnic and national identities, as combined in "separated," "assimilated," or "dual identity" strategies, moderate consequences of identity threat for minority school performance and that the adaptive value of different identity strategies depends on the intergroup context. Random samples of Turkish Belgian young adults (N = 576) were interviewed about their school performance (i.e., high, middle, or low success) and past experiences of discrimination in school as an indicator of identity threat. Results revealed that Turkish Belgians with "separated" or "assimilated" identity strategies were less likely than "dual" identifiers to disengage from school when perceived threat was high. Conversely, dual identifiers were most successful when perceived threat was low. Implications of the up- and downsides of dual identity for minority school performance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2011


  • acculturation
  • discrimination
  • dual identity
  • identity threat
  • school performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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