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Joshua Aronson

Joshua Aronson

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Broadly speaking, my research examines the social forces that shape learning and intellectual performance, motivation, and self-image.

A good deal of this research examines the educational disparities between blacks, Latinos and whites, and what social psychology can do to explain and address this problem.

Often, the low performance of African Americans, and other minorities gets casually chalked up to genetic, cultural, or other hard-to-change factors that supposedly block acquisition of skills or values necessary for academic achievement. My research examines the more tractable social psychological factors in this underachievement. Work my students and colleagues have done suggests that being targeted by well-known cultural stereotypes ("blacks are unintelligent", "girls can't do math", and so on) can undermine achievement by creating a threatening social environment. Claude Steele and I called the predicament this creates "stereotype threat." Numerous studies show how stereotype threat depresses the standardized test performance of black, Latino, and female college students. These same studies showed how changing the testing situation (even subtly) so as to reduce stereotype threat, can dramatically improve standardized test scores and motivation. This work offers a far more optimistic view of race and gender gaps than the older theories that focused on poverty, culture, or genetic factors. We have found that we can do a lot to boost both achievement and the enjoyment of school by understanding and attending to these psychological processes. My ongoing research looks at basic psychological and developmental processes in how individuals contend and cope with stereotype threat, as well as applied interventions in schools aimed at reducing the minority-white achievement gap, and the gap in STEM learning and participation for girls and women.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Gender Psychology
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity

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Journal Articles:

  • Aronson, J., Blanton, H., & Cooper, J. (1995). From dissonance to disidentification: Selectivity in the self-affirmation process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 986-996.
  • Aronson, J., Fried, C., & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 113-125.
  • Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2004). The ups and downs of attributional ambiguity: Stereotype vulnerability and the academic self-knowledge of African-American students. Psychological Science, 15, 12, 829-836.
  • Aronson, J., Lustina, M. J., Good, C., Keough, K., Steele, C. M., & Brown, J. (1999). When white men can't do math: Necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 29-46.
  • Cohen, G., Aronson, J., & Steele, C. M. (2000). When beliefs yield to evidence: Reducing biased evaluation by affirming the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(9), 1151-1164.
  • Good, C., Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2003). Improving adolescents' standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 645-662.
  • McGlone, M., & Aronson, J. (2006). Social identity salience and stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 486 – 493.
  • Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797-811.
  • Suzuki, L., & Aronson, J. (2005). Cultural malleability of the racial/ethnic hierarchy of intelligence. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.

Other Publications:

  • Aronson, J. (2009). Low Numbers: Stereotype Threat and the Under-representation of Women in Math and Science Careers . In C. Hoff Summers (Ed.), The Science of Women in Science. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute.
  • Aronson , J., & Steele, C. M. (2005). Stereotypes and the fragility of human competence, motivation, and self-concept. In C. Dweck & E. Elliot (Eds.), Handbook of Competence & Motivation. New York: Guilford.
  • Halpern, D., Aronson, J. et al (2008). Encouraging Girls in Math and Science. Washington, DC: Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
  • Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1998). How stereotypes influence the standardized test performance of talented African American students. In C. Jencks & M. Phillips (Eds.), The Black-White Test Score Gap (pp. 401-427). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Courses Taught:

  • Academic Achievement Gaps
  • Adolescent Development: Theory and Research
  • Educational Psychology
  • Graduate Social Psychology

Joshua Aronson
Department of Applied Psychology
New York University
246 Greene Street, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10003
United States of America

  • Phone: (212) 998-5543

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