Loss of Institutional Trust Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Adolescents: A Consequence of Procedural Injustice and a Cause of Life-Span Outcomes

Loss of Institutional Trust Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Adolescents: A Consequence of Procedural Injustice and a Cause of Life-Span Outcomes

By
David S. Yeager, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Sophia Yang Hooper, Geoffrey Lawrence Cohen
Child Development . February
8, 2017

This research tested a social-developmental process model of trust discernment. From sixth to eighth grade, White and African American students were surveyed twice yearly (ages 11–14; Study 1, = 277). African American students were more aware of racial bias in school disciplinary decisions, and as this awareness grew it predicted a loss of trust in school, leading to a large trust gap in seventh grade. Loss of trust by spring of seventh grade predicted African Americans’ subsequent discipline infractions and 4-year college enrollment. Causality was confirmed with a trust-restoring “wise feedback” treatment delivered in spring of seventh grade that improved African Americans’ eighth-grade discipline and college outcomes. Correlational findings were replicated with Latino and White students (ages 11–14; Study 2, = 206).