Improving adolescents' standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat

Catherine Good, Joshua Aronson, Michael Inzlicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Standardized tests continue to generate gender and race gaps in achievement despite decades of national attention. Research on "stereotype threat" (Steele & Aronson, 1995) suggests that these gaps may be partly due to stereotypes that impugn the math abilities of females and the intellectual abilities of Black, Hispanic, and low-income students. A field experiment was performed to test methods of helping female, minority, and low-income adolescents overcome the anxiety-inducing effects of stereotype threat and, consequently, improve their standardized test scores. Specifically, seventh-grade students in the experimental conditions were mentored by college students who encouraged them either to view intelligence as malleable or to attribute academic difficulties in the seventh grade to the novelty of the educational setting. Results showed that females in both experimental conditions earned significantly higher math standardized test scores than females in the control condition. Similarly, the students-who were largely minority and low-income adolescents-in the experimental conditions earned significantly higher reading standardized test scores than students in the control condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-662
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Adolescents
  • Attributions
  • Beliefs about intelligence
  • Gender differences
  • Low-income students
  • Mathematics
  • Minority students
  • Reading
  • Standardized tests
  • Stereotype threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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