WWC review of this study

Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence.

Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2002). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38(2), 113-125. doi:10.1006/jesp.2001.1491.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    51
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: March 2022

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Growth Mindset vs. Other intervention

9 Weeks

Growth mindset vs. control pen pal;
51 students

3.46

3.19

Yes

 
 
32
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Growth Mindset vs. Other intervention

9 Weeks

Control pen-pal and no pen-pal combined;
79 students

3.46

3.19

Yes

 
 
32

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Growth Mindset vs. Other intervention

9 Weeks

Growth mindset vs. no pen-pal;
56 students

3.46

3.23

Yes

 
 
28


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

    • B
    • A
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    • i
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    California
  • Race
    Black
    55%
    White
    45%

Setting

The study took place at a private four-year university in California. Groups of two to five undergraduate students participated in the study together in a laboratory setting on campus.

Study sample

For students in the main analytic sample comparing outcomes for the intervention and control pen-pal comparison groups, 55% were Black and 45% were White. The authors did not provide other demographic information for the study sample.

Intervention Group

Students in the intervention group attended three one-hour sessions, spaced 10 days apart starting in mid-January and continuing through February. In groups of two to five, students were asked to write a reassuring letter to a middle school student experiencing academic difficulties. Students read letters ostensibly written by seventh-grade students, but actually prepared by the study authors. Next, researchers told students that intelligence could grow with hard work, and showed a short video describing research showing that the human brain developed new connections in response to intellectual challenges. Before replying to their assigned middle school “pen-pal,” students were encouraged to include information about the malleability of intelligence, as well as illustrative examples from their own life in their response. In the second session, students received a thank you note, ostensibly from their pen-pal and pen-pal’s teacher; students then wrote a similar letter to a new pen-pal. In the third session, students converted their letters into a speech, recorded their speech, and then listened twice to their own audiotaped speech.

Comparison Group

In the control pen-pal comparison group, students attended three one-hour sessions spaced 10 days apart starting in mid-January and continuing through February. In groups of two to five, students were asked to write a reassuring letter to a middle school student experiencing academic difficulties. Students read letters ostensibly written by seventh-grade students, but actually prepared by the study authors. Next, researchers told students that intelligence was not a single attribute but that individuals had multiple intellectual strengths and weaknesses, and showed a short video describing how psychologists were starting to view intelligence as multiple abilities rather than a single entity. Before replying to their assigned middle school pen-pal, students were encouraged to include information about the multiple types of intelligence in their response. In the second session, students received a thank you note, ostensibly from their pen-pal and pen-pal’s teacher; students then wrote a similar letter to a new pen-pal. In the third session, students converted their letters into a speech, recorded their speech, and then listened twice to their own audiotaped speech. In the no pen-pal comparison group, students attended one laboratory session near the end of February to complete survey measures and sign study-related forms.

Support for implementation

No additional information provided.

Reviewed: February 2016

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

GPA

Malleable Intelligence Pen Pals vs. Malleable pen pal or no pen pal

Posttest

Full sample;
79 students

3.46

3.19

Yes

 
 
32
 


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    California
  • Race
    Black
    53%
    White
    47%
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    100%

Reviewed: January 2016

Meets WWC standards without reservations


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
 

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