Self-Affirmation and Test Performance in Ethnically Diverse Schools: A New Dual-Identity Affirmation Intervention

Laura Celeste, Gülseli Baysu, Karen Phalet, Rupert Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ethnic minority underachievement remains a problem in many countries, and affirmation interventions offer a promising approach to help reduce the achievement gap. We compared the effects of a conventional self-affirmation intervention with a dual-identity affirmation on test performance in a minority-concentrated school (56% Black pupils), in London, UK (N=179, M_age=12.29). A randomized design consisted of a new dual-identity condition, a traditional self-affirmation condition, and two control conditions—a ‘one-group’ condition and a non-affirmation control condition. Teachers implemented the interventions in class, and test performance was the outcome measure. As expected, we found Black pupils outperformed non-Black pupils when they undertook a dual-identity affirmation exercise, while non-Black pupils outperformed Black pupils in the traditional self-affirmation condition. Stereotype threat partially mediated this effect: Dual-identity was less threatening for Black pupils than for non-Black pupils, increasing the test performance of Black pupils. We propose dual-identity affirmation as a promising affirmation intervention to reduce threat and improve performance for underachieving minorities in ethnically diverse settings. Implications for teachers as key players in affirmation interventions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Publication statusAccepted - 17 Jan 2021

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