When Inequality Matters: The Effect of Inequality Frames on Academic Engagement.

When Inequality Matters: The Effect of Inequality Frames on Academic Engagement.

By
Brian Lowery, Daryl A. Wout
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. June
2010, Vol. 98, Issue 6, Pages 956-966

Research indicates that, among women and ethnic minorities, perceived inequality reduces the association between self-esteem and academic outcomes. The present studies demonstrate that the perception of social inequality does not always induce subordinate-group disengagement. Rather, inequality framed as dominant-group advantage allows subordinate groups to remain engaged and causes dominant groups to disengage. Experiments 1–3 demonstrate that academic inequality framed in terms of ingroup disadvantage causes Black, Latino, and female students to disengage, but inequality framed in terms of White or male advantage does not. Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate the same effect for Whites and men—inequality framed in terms of the ingroup (i.e., advantage) causes disengagement, but inequality framed as outgroup disadvantage does not.