The Effects of Social Background on Intellectual Tasks

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Croizet, Jean-Claude., and Theresa Claire. “Extending the Concept of Stereotype Threat to the Social class: The Intellectual Underperformance of Students From Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds.” Personality and Social Psychology. Volume: 24 Issue: 6 Pages: 588-594 JUN 1998. web. 9 Sept. 2011.

In this psychology journal article Croizet and Claire talk about the effects of social background on intellectual tasks such as test taking. The social class that is studied in this experiment is the low income class. It has been documented before that members of the higher class have tested higher on average than the lower class. Croizet and Claire wanted to find out what exactly causes this difference in test scores between the two classes.

First possible reason behind the dramatic difference in academic achievements that was explored was resources between the two classes. Students with higher class parents would have more resources such as books and tutors, also having enough food for adequate sustenance. This could show an effect in performance but it was not the main contributor.

Another explanation was societies expectations of certain groups. These being stereotypes that we have come to know throughout generations. We have come to know that wealthier students tend to do better and get further ahead in life than students from a poor family. Croizet and Claire shared a study about the treatment of poor students in the classroom. The poor students were treated badly causing negative effects in classroom performance. Again this did show an effect in performance but was not the main reason.

The final possible reason and the one Croizet and Claire test is influence of awareness of a stereotype. They explore the effects of a person when they know of their stereotype and base questions in a test that subtly bring these stereotypes up. The study tested students with 2 different tests. One that brought out a...
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