Immigrant and Domestic Minorities’ Racial Identities and College Performance

Jayanti Owens, Princeton University
Scott M. Lynch, Princeton University

Stereotype threat theory provides an explanation for academic underperformance among American domestic minority students. Increasingly, however, today’s minority college students are of immigrant backgrounds. It is unclear whether the theory is applicable in this context: Immigrant minority students may not identify with the same racial paradigm that makes domestic minorities susceptible to stereotype threat. In this paper, we address two questions. First, do immigrant minority students experience stereotype threat differently from domestic minorities? Second, does the theory explain academic performance differences between domestic and immigrant minorities? Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Freshmen, we find that immigrants are resilient against the performance-depressing effects of stereotype threat experienced by domestic minorities. The results imply a nuanced revision of the theory.

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Presented in Poster Session 2