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Theses Doctoral

The Role of Self-Affirmation and Self-Construal Levels in Attenuating the Gender Performance Gap

Kim, Jennifer Young-Jin

The purpose of this study was to examine how to enhance the buffering effects of stereotype threat interventions among women. We specifically wanted to understand whether self-affirmation type and self-construal levels, an individual difference variable, interact to mitigate the gender performance gap among Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students. By examining how an individual difference variable, such as self-construal level, impacts the way people respond to a stereotype threat intervention, we hoped to elucidate factors that could help tailor interventions according to an individual’s needs. Participants were assigned to one of three self-affirmation conditions: 1) individual self-affirmation, 2) collective self-affirmation, and 3) control condition. In the individual self-affirmation condition, participants were asked to write about a value that was important to them; in the collective self-affirmation condition, participants were asked to write about a value that was important to them and a group with whom they identified; and in the control condition, participants were asked to write about a value that might be important to someone else. Study results revealed that the gender performance gap as measured by semester grades in the core quantitative courses disappeared for women who engaged in an individual self-affirmation condition, but not for women who were assigned to the collective self-affirmation or control condition. Moreover, the results also showed that when there was alignment between a woman’s self-construal level and the type of affirmation received, the buffering effects of the intervention were enhanced even more. More specifically, we saw enhanced performance for women who were high on individualism, but low on collectivism and assigned to the individual self-affirmation condition as well as for women who were high on collectivism, but low on individualism and assigned to the collective self-affirmation condition. Study significance and implications are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Block, Caryn J.
Ph.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 24, 2019
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