The Power of Affirmation

Summary:
Considering questions related to ones core values improves overall performance. By challenging the belief that ones performance is based on ones stereotype, it motivates performance based on core values: family, faith etc. The act of taking a few minutes to connect core values to current tasks has a measurable positive effect on performance. Recent research at the University of Colorado validates this finding.

Abstract:
“In many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, women are out performed by men in test scores, jeopardizing their success in science-oriented courses and careers. The current study tested the effectiveness of a psychological intervention, called values affirmation,in reducing the gender achievement gap in a college-level introductory physics class. In this randomized double-blind study, 399 students either wrote about their most important values or not, twice at the beginning of the 15-week course. Values affirmation reduced the male-female performance and learning difference substantially and elevated women’s modal grades from the C to B range. Benefits were strongest for women who tended to endorse the stereotype that men do better than women in physics. A brief psychological intervention may be a promising way to address the gender gap in science performance and learning.”

Full Article:
Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in College Science: A Classroom Study of Values Affirmation
Akira Miyake, Lauren E. Kost-Smith, Noah D. Finkelstein, Steven J. Pollock, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Tiffany A. It
Science 330, 1234 (2010);