The pressure to perform well can be an anxiety-producing process. That pressure is especially acute when one believes that failure will confirm negative stereotypes about one's group. Social psychologists dub this phenomenon "stereotype vulnerability" and often cite it as an impediment to progress for minority groups.
In previous research, Kay Deaux of the City University of New York has examined immigrants in stereotype threat situations and found that while first-generation immigrants performed better under this pressure, it caused the children of immigrants to suffer performance declines. She hypothesizes that new arrivals are motivated and optimistic, and therefore willing to take more chances in their testing strategies that could prove beneficial. In contrast, children in the second-generation have likely experienced more prejudice and therefore are more cautious in their approach to testing.
Deaux will examine her hypothesis with a survey of 400 first and second-generation immigrants in New York City colleges that asks about their experiences with and views of discrimination as well as their use of promotion and prevention strategies. The sample will represent immigrants from various backgrounds, thereby indicating whether the patterns found in previous research are generalizable to immigrants as a whole or specific to one group to particular groups.