Context Moderates Affirmation Effects on the Ethnic Achievement Gap

John Protzko, Joshua Aronson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We attempted to replicate a self-affirmation intervention that produced a 40% reduction in the academic achievement gap among at-risk students. The intervention was designed as a protection against stereotype threat—, which creates stress and suppresses the performance, engagement, and learning of students stereotyped as intellectually inferior. In previous research, Black and Hispanic students who engaged in a values-affirmation exercise significantly improved their academic performance over the course of a school semester. We attempted to replicate these salutary effects in both an inner-city school and a more wealthy suburban school—contexts not tested in the original research. Despite employing the same materials, we found no effect of the affirmation on academic performance. We discuss these results in terms of the possibility that negatively stereotyped students benefit most from self-affirmations in environments where their numbers portray them neither as clearly “majority” nor minority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-507
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • achievement
  • affirmation
  • replication
  • stereotype threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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