Research Library

Search over three decades of research on mindsets, including Mindset Scholars Network briefs and working papers, and other publications from Network studies and initiatives.


Developmental Stage

Publication Type

Social psychological theorizing on prejudice and discrimination, which largely focuses on tangible or verifiable content of people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions toward a group (what the research team terms commissions), falls short in capturing the nature of prejudice and discrimination directed toward Native Americans. Utilizing the literature on the prevalence, content, and consequences of representations of Native Americans, the research team argue that aspects of the world that are invisible or intentionally left out of the public conscious, what they refer to as omissions, hold important meaning for both Native and non-Native individuals. The researchers propose that a framework of bias that incorporates both omissions and commissions will enrich our understanding of bias, prejudice, and discrimination and better elucidate the experiences of groups that are historically underrepresented and underserved by social science.

This paper theorizes that academic interventions will be maximally effective when they are culturally grounded. Culturally grounded interventions acknowledge cultural differences and validate multiple cultural models in a given context. This review highlights the importance of considering culture in academic interventions and draws upon the culture cycle framework to provide a blueprint for those interested in building more efficacious interventions.

Specifically, the paper reviews literature in education and psychology to argue: 1) when working-class and racial minority students’ cultural models are not valued in mainstream academic domains, these students underperform; and 2) many current academic interventions intended to improve working-class and racial minority students’ academic outcomes could be further enhanced by cultural grounding.

Minority and majority elementary school students from a Native American reservation completed tests of academic self-concepts and self-esteem. School grades, attendance, and classroom behavior were collected. Both minority and majority students exhibited positive self-esteem. Minority students demonstrated lower academic self-concepts and lower achievement than majority students. Two age-related patterns emerged. First, minority students had lower academic achievement than majority students, and this effect was stronger in older (Grades 3–5) than in younger (Grades K–2) students. Second, children's actual achievement was related to their academic self-concepts for older students but more strongly linked to self-esteem in younger students. The authors offer a developmental account connecting students’ developing self-representations to their school achievement.

The research team examined whether culture-relevant affirmations that focus on family (i.e., family affirmation) would enhance performance for Latino students compared to affirmations that focus on the individual (i.e., self-affirmation).

In Study 1, Latino middle school students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation. In Study 2, Latino college students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation and outperformed European American students across conditions. European American students performed equally well across conditions. The findings suggest that culture provides a meaningful framework for developing effective classroom strategies.

Mass media plays a substantial role in the way social groups understand themselves and are understood by others. Some social groups, like Native Americans, are rarely portrayed in mass media and, in the rare cases they appear, they are typically depicted in a stereotypical and historical fashion. The lack of contemporary representation of Native Americans in the media limits the ways in which Native Americans understand what is possible for themselves and how they see themselves fitting in to contemporary domains (e.g., education and employment) of social life. In this article, we contend that the invisibility of Native Americans in the media undermines self-understanding by homogenizing Native American identity, creating narrow and limiting identity prototypes for Native Americans, and evoking deindividuation and self-stereotyping among contemporary Native Americans.

Native American students encounter limited exposure to positive representations (i.e., role models) in the academic domain. This underrepresentation threatens students’ identities in the classroom, subsequently decreasing feelings of school belonging and negatively impacting academic performance (Walton & Cohen, 2007). Two studies examined how different methods for providing self-relevant representations affect belonging for underrepresented Native American middle school students. These findings suggest that positive, self-relevant representations can alleviate the effects of underrepresentation for Native American students.

The authors propose a cultural mismatch theory that identifies one source of the social class achievement gap between first-generation and continuing-generation college students. Four studies test the hypothesis that first-generation students underperform because interdependent norms from their mostly working-class backgrounds constitute a mismatch with middle-class independent norms prevalent in universities. First, surveys of university administrators revealed that American universities focus primarily on norms of independence. Second, a longitudinal survey revealed that universities' focus on independence does not match first-generation students' relatively interdependent motives for attending college and that this cultural mismatch is associated with lower grades. Finally, 2 experiments revealed that representing the university culture in terms of independence (i.e., paving one's own paths) rendered academic tasks difficult and, thereby, undermined first-generation students' performance. Conversely, representing the university culture in terms of interdependence (i.e., being part of a community) reduced this sense of difficulty and eliminated the performance gap without adverse consequences for continuing-generation students.