Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

2011 Edition
| Editors: Sam Goldstein, Jack A. Naglieri

Cultural Deficit Perspective

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_750


A cultural deficit perspective is comprised of two parts: (a) the attribution of an individual’s achievement to cultural factors alone, without regard to individual characteristics; and, (b) the attribution of failure to a cultural group. In other words, a cultural deficit perspective is a view that individuals from some cultural groups lack the ability to achieve just because of their cultural background.


Deficit models in general suggest the cause of underachievement lies within the individual rather than the individual’s environment. For children in learning situations, the environment may include the learning context such as the safety or comfort of a classroom, the teacher or parent and his or her presentation of new material, or other external factors. The cultural deficit perspective in particular places the cause of underachievement within an individual’s cultural group. Some cultural groups have been highly susceptible to cultural deficit explanations of...

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    Swann, M. (1985). Education for all (The Swann Report). Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
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    Valencia, R. R. (1997). The evolution of deficit thinking. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational PsychologyOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA