Readers who have followed recent philosophical discussions on implicit bias and schema disruption (here, for example) may be interested in this study reported at The Situationist attempting to test whether having an African-American president has changed the way African-American students perform on tests, and whether it has enhanced their ability to overcome stereotype threats that decrease academic performance.
The inspiring role model that Mr. Obama projected helped blacks overcome anxieties about racial stereotypes that had been shown, in earlier research, to lower the test-taking proficiency of African-Americans, the researchers conclude in a report summarizing their results.
“Obama is obviously inspirational, but we wondered whether he would contribute to an improvement in something as important as black test-taking,” said Ray Friedman, a management professor at Vanderbilt University, one of the study’s three authors. “We were skeptical that we would find any effect, but our results surprised us.”
Readers who haven’t followed the discussions on implicit bias and schema disruption or who aren’t familiar with the relevant psychological literature may wish to follow the links at the end of the entry at The Situationist.