, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 85-110

Lazy, Dumb, or Industrious: When Stereotypes Convey Attribution Information in the Classroom

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Abstract

Historically, ethnic minority children and girls have underachieved in American schools. This paper examines the role that stereotypes play in imposing obstacles to success for stigmatized children inside and outside of the classroom. Stereotypes convey explanatory information about groups—such as blacks are lazy, girls are bad at math, and so forth—that may be used as attributions for performance by adults as well as the children themselves. This paper presents a model that brings to light the underlying attributional structures of all stereotypes. Each of these attributional signatures has specific effects on judgments of responsibility and deservingness, help giving or punishment, self-esteem and motivation, and even performance inside and outside of the classroom. Through recognizing that stereotypes are vehicles for attributional judgments, educators are better able to anticipate the effects that stereotypes may have on students and take measures to counteract or diminish them.