One line of research I am following with much interest is stereotype vulnerability research. Stereotype vulnerability is the tendency to expect, perceive, and be influenced by negative stereotypes about one’s social category. Two pioneers of the field are Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson. Here is a wikipedia page explaining the general idea. I find this line of research so interesting because it allows for some optimistic conclusions about bridging performance gaps between different social and ethnical groups. University of Texas psychologist Matthew McGlone, for instance, wondered what would happen if you prompted people to think about their strengths rather than their stereotypical weaknesses - would that be enough to improve performance in areas where they weren't supposed to do well? McGlone, working with Joshua Aronson of New York University, found that the answer is yes. "The idea that something is immutable due to some biological factor can be trumped," McGlone said (source of this quote). If you want to know more, here are some interesting articles:
- The cultural malleability of intelligence and its impact on the racial/ethnic hierarchy (Lisa Suzuki and Joshua Aronson, 2005)
- The ups and downs of attributional ambiguity: Stereotype vulnerability and the academic self-knowledge of African American college students (Joshua Aronson and Michael Inzlicht, 2004)
- The threat of stereotype (Joshua Aronson, 2004)
I hope Joshua Aronson, one of the leaders of the field, will soon write a book about this fascinating topic, containing the latest research findings and practical suggestions for teachers. That would be a much needed book for many.