I am not only a Student-Athlete: Investigating Social Identity Complexity as a Stereotype Threat Mitigation Strategy to Reduce Barriers to Academic Engagements

Jacob Alan English – Georgia State University
Ann Cale Kruger – Georgia State University

Collegiate athletes must contend with harmful stereotypes (e.g., intellectually lazy, unintelligent) during their academic careers (Comeaux, 2012). Research shows that student-athletes’ academic performance can be negatively impacted by stereotype threat (Riciputi & Erdal, 2017). Currently, there is no published evidence-based research on stereotype threat (ST) mitigation strategies targeted to student-athletes. Expanding the work of Gresky and colleagues (2005), this study explored a self-concept map activity, based on the social identity complexity theory, as one potential strategy for collegiate athletes. Seventy Division I athletes were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions (varying by the level of ST administered). ANOVA was used to assess differences in scores on an SAT-style examination across conditions. These results suggest that ST mitigations may work, but strategies should be culturally specific and relevant to the challenge of the academic tasks. The study offers unique strategies to help student-athletes combat social and psychological barriers to academic engagement, such as high-impact practices, and academic and postgraduate success.