Academic journal article Educational Foundations

A Comparison of High School Students' Stereotypic Beliefs about Intelligence and Athleticism

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

A Comparison of High School Students' Stereotypic Beliefs about Intelligence and Athleticism

Article excerpt

Since the nineteenth century and still today, persistent stereotypic beliefs about Blacks (1) have portrayed them as athletically superior while intellectually inferior to Whites (2) (Harrison, 2001; Harrison, Harrison, & Moore, 2002; Harrison & Lawrence, 2004; Miller, 1998; Wiggins, 1989). In contrast, Whites have been portrayed as athletically inferior but intellectually superior to Blacks. These types of race-based stereotypic beliefs have present day implications for youth, such as imposing social and psychological burdens on performance and thus potentially reducing a student's ability to perform to her or his potential (Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, & Darley, 1999). For instance, Stone et al. (1999) asserted that athletic performance is impeded out of concern about confirming a negative stereotype which "increases anxiety and in part because it creates self-doubt about the ability to perform" (p. 1224). Research supports the plausibility that for Black student-athletes' negative stereotypic beliefs about their intelligence can lead them to lower their expectations in academic contexts (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Stone et al., 1999). It is important that teachers, coaches, and other school personnel (e.g., counselors) understand how race-sport stereotypes can impact the aspirations of youth toward or away from varied athletic pursues often at the expense of their academic success (Harrison, Azzarito, & Burden, 2004).

What's more revealing about this issue is that it is held that internalized acceptance of race-based stereotypic beliefs about intelligence and athleticism confounded by a lack of access, opportunity, and economical variables plus other factors (e.g., socio-cultural) lead some Black and Hispanic (3) youth toward more economically accessible sports (e.g., baseball, basketball, football) and away from exposure to less economically accessible sports such as golf and tennis (Burden, Hodge, & Harrison, 2004; Edwards, 1998; Harrison et al., 2004; Harrison et al., 2002; Harrison & Lawrence, 2004). On this issue, Burden et al. (2004) examined Black and White students' beliefs about theirs (in-group) and each others (out-group) ethnic groups' intentions to participate in various sport activities. They reported that respondents from both groups were influenced by socio-cultural variables (e.g., absence or presence of sport role models as portrayed by the media). Specifically, both Black and White students believed that socio-cultural variables influenced Blacks to more likely participate in basketball and football than Whites, and that Whites were more likely to participate in tennis, golf, and swimming. Burden et al. also found that respondents from both groups held beliefs that Blacks' intent to participate in varied sport activities are hindered by socioeconomic inequalities. Most respondents believed that sport activities such as basketball and football were accessible to most Blacks, whereas golf, swimming, and tennis were much less accessible to Blacks; but accessible for most Whites in their communities. Plus, the large presence of Blacks in basketball and football at the collegiate and professional levels affects some Black (self-stereotyping) and White (stereotyping) students' beliefs about Blacks' intent to participate in these sports. In contrast, the dominate presence of Whites in tennis and golf at the collegiate and professional levels influences some Black (stereotyping) and White (self-stereotyping) students' beliefs about Whites' intentions to participate in these sports (Burden et al., 2004).

Research that examines different ethnic (4) groups' beliefs about theirs and others intellectual and athletic abilities is important to understanding how best to counter harmful stereotypes (Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995). Hence, more research is needed to better understand various ethnic groups' race-based stereotypic beliefs about theirs and the intellectual and athletic abilities of others (Burden et al. …

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