So young and already victims of stereotype threat: Socio-economic status and performance of 6 to 9 years old children on Raven’s progressive matrices

  • Michel Désert
  • Marie Préaux
  • Robin Jund


The aim of this study was to verify whether children from low socio-economic status (SES) are victims of stereotype threat. Children in first grade (6 to 7 years old) and third grade (8 to 9 years old) performed Raven’s progressive matrices, an intellectual ability test commonly used by psychologists. The test was presented either with the (evaluative) instructions recommended by Raven et al. (1998) or with non evaluative instructions. Children’s SES and beliefs concerning differences of abilities at school as a function of SES were also assessed. The results indicated that, as early as first grade, participants believed that children from high SES are better at school than children from low SES. Furthermore, low SES participants’ performance on the Raven’s matrices was lower in the evaluative condition than in the non evaluative condition. The experimental instructions did not affect high SES participants’ performance. The discussion explores implications of these results in the use of standardized tests to assess the intellectual abilities of low SES children.

Key words

Scholastic performance Socio-economic status Stereotype threat 


Cette étude a pour but de vérifier si des enfants issues de milieux défavorisés sont susceptibles d’être victimes de la menace du stéréotype dès l’école primaire. La performance d’élèves de CP (âgés de 6 à 7 ans) et de CE2 (âgés de 8 à 9 ans) à un test d’intelligence fréquemment utilisé par les psychologues, les matrices de Raven, a été mesurée. Le test a été présenté soit avec les consignes évaluatives standard préconisées par les concepteurs du test, soit avec des consignes non évaluatives. Le niveau socio-économique des enfants était évalué ainsi que leur croyance en l’existence d’une différence d’aptitudes scolaires en fonction du niveau socio-économique. Les résultats montrent que, dès le CP, les élèves croient en la supériorité scolaire des enfants favorisés par rapport aux enfants défavorisés. De plus, la performance de ces derniers aux matrices de Raven était plus faible en condition évaluative qu’en condition non-évaluative. La performance des élèves de haut statut socio-économique n’était pas modifiée par le type de consignes utilisées. Les implications de ces résultats pour l’évaluation et l’orientation d’enfants de bas statut socio-économique à l’aide de tests standardisés supposés insensibles aux effets de culture seront discutées.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LAPSCO, UMR 6024 CNRSBlaise Pascal UniversityClermont-FerrandFrance

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