Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Social Identity Threat, Social-Psychology Interventions, Academic Achievement

Major Advisor

Diane M Quinn

Associate Advisor

Hart Blanton

Associate Advisor

D. Betsy McCoach

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The current research investigated the extent to which social identity threat—the fear of confirming negative group stereotypes—could be contributing to the underachievement of first-generation-college (FGC) students, and whether brief social-psychological interventions could protect FGC students’ academic achievement. Results from Studies 1 and 2 indicated that FGC students who were also members of underrepresented racial minority groups (FGC-URM students) indicated being particularly concerned about confirming negative stereotypes based on their social class and race, which has been found to interfere with students’ academic achievement—this concern about confirming group stereotypes was less pronounced for FGC students from racial majority groups (FGC-majority students). Results from Study 2 indicated that two brief social-psychological interventions improved FGC-URM students’ academic achievement; however, counter to expectations, one of these brief interventions harmed the achievement of FGC-majority students. These findings highlight the importance of considering FGC students’ multiple, intersecting social identities when developing strategies for improving their academic outcomes, but also, the importance of ensuring that brief interventions do not inadvertently harm the students’ achievement. Together, these findings suggest that social identity threat should be considered a contributing factor to the underachievement of FGC students, and that brief social-psychological interventions may have the capacity to improve FGC students’ academic outcomes.

Available for download on Thursday, May 03, 2018