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The Development of Academic and Non-Academic Race Stereotypes in Black Americans

Sat, March 23, 12:45 to 2:00pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Cultural stereotypes are beliefs about certain groups that are widely held in society. Both Black and White middle school students endorse academic stereotypes favoring Whites over Blacks (Copping et al., 2013; Nasir et al., 2017; Rowley, et al., 2007). Black and White students favor Blacks in the domains of music and sports (Devine & Elliot, 1995; Madon et al., 2001; Copping et al., 2013).

Few longitudinal studies have examined developmental change in stereotype endorsement of Black youth across adolescence. We examine Black students’ endorsement of racial academic, music, and sports stereotypes in Grades 7, 10, and 12 as well as gender differences. If change during adolescence is driven primarily by exposure to cultural beliefs, one would predict increases in all stereotypes across adolescence. If stereotype endorsement is linked to other identity-related variables (e.g., gender stereotypes favoring boys over girls in math and science), then developmental change might show greater complexity of beliefs with age.

Data were drawn from a longitudinal study of Black youth. Stereotype endorsement was measured in Grades 7, 10, and 12. Students (N = 563; 313 girls) marked on a 100-mm line (0 = not well at all; 100 = very well) how well Black and White students perform in several domains. Race groups were rated on separate pages of the survey. For this paper, difference scores were calculated between items measuring English, math, science, music, and sports abilities. Positive scores indicated traditional stereotypes (e.g., White competence in science minus Black competence in science), zero indicated no race difference, and negative scores reflected non-traditional beliefs.

Means and standard deviations appear in Table 1. Multilevel Growth Modeling (MLM) was used to assess change from 7th grade to 12th grade, with domain nested within participant at Level 1 and gender included at Level 2. Separate models tested academic (English, math, science) and non-academic (music and sports) stereotypes. Parent education and household income were controlled. Academic stereotype endorsement increased between Grades 7 and 10, then decreased in Grade 12 (i.e., a quadratic effect, see Table 2). Scores also differed by gender: Girls endorsed traditional academic race stereotypes more strongly than boys. This main effect was qualified by a Gender x Domain interaction: Compared to boys, girls more strongly endorsed science and math stereotypes favoring Whites. A main effect of grade in the non-academic stereotype model reflected that students’ endorsement of music and sports stereotypes decreased over time. Boys endorsed sports stereotypes more than girls.

Our results indicate that gender identity-linked factors play a role in youths’ endorsement of stereotypes. For example, boys’ stereotype endorsement was strongest in sports, a domain in which Black boys are stereotyped as high-achieving. In contrast, Black girls—compared to Black boys--gave Whites a greater advantage in math and science, domains in which girls are negatively stereotyped. An intersectional approach that separately considers the consequences of stereotypes for Black boys and Black girls may enrich theory and educational practice.

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