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Behavioural challenges of minorities: Social identity and role models

Journal article
Authors Joseph Vecci
T. Želinský
Published in Plos One
Volume 14
Issue 7
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Language en
Keywords child, cognition, controlled study, ethnicity, female, field experiment, human, human experiment, male, Slovakia, social status, stereotypy
Subject categories Economics


We present a lab-in-the-field experiment and surveys of marginalised Roma children in Slovakia to examine whether reminding Roma of their ethnicity reduces their performance in a cognitive task. Research on social identity and stereotypes has documented that when individuals feel that their social group is negatively stereotyped in a domain, their performance declines, which can reinforce discrimination. In an effort to break the cycle of negative stereotypes, we remind Roma subjects of either Roma or non-Roma role models. We find that the activation of a Roma’s ethnicity reduces cognitive performance. In contrast, Roma exposed to Roma role models outperform those reminded of their ethnicity and of non-Roma role models. We then attempt to understand the channels through which social identity and role models affect performance. We show that priming the identity of a Roma has a direct effect on confidence, decreasing performance. © 2019 Vecci, Zelinský. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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