Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



First Advisor

Dr. Valerie Jones Taylor

Second Advisor

Dr. Angela Farris-Watkins


A predominant theory used to investigate stereotypes and their effects on performance is stereotype threat. Psychologists Steele and Aronson (1995) originally developed this social-psychological theory to help explain the achievement gap between White and Black students. Stereotype threat is the preoccupation felt by members of marginalized groups who feel at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group that can lead to underperformance (Steele, 1997). With this effect in mind, could role models provide marginalized groups with the motivation to withstand potential threats to their identity and maintain the confidence to achieve? To answer this question, a quasi-experiment was completed to determine whether the race of female role models impacts the academic performance and self-esteem of Black female college students. Spelman College students were randomly assigned to one of three female role model conditions: a black female role model, white female role model or no role model. To explore performance, participants completed a difficult intelligence task called the Advanced Progressive Matrices Task (Raven et al., 1998) and to assess self-esteem, the State Self-Esteem Scale was administered (Heatherton & Polivy, 1991). With a goal sample size of 60 participants, it is expected that students assigned to the black female role model condition will perform better and have higher self-esteem than students assigned to the white female role model condition and the no role model condition. This study attempts to further document that stereotype threat inhibits performance and confirm the impact of role models for the achievement of minority students.

Included in

Psychology Commons