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The Effects of a Warm or Chilly Climate Toward Socioeconomic Diversity on Academic Motivation and Self-Concept

Abstract

Persistent academic achievement gaps exist between university students from high and low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. The current research proposes that the extent to which a university is perceived as actively supporting versus passively neglecting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds can influence low-SES students’ academic motivation and self-concepts. In Experiments 1 and 2, low-SES students exposed to cues suggestive of an institution’s warmth toward socioeconomic diversity demonstrated greater academic efficacy, expectations, and implicit associations with high academic achievement compared with those exposed to cues indicating institutional chilliness. Exploring the phenomenology underlying these effects, Experiment 3 demonstrated that warmth cues led low-SES students to perceive their socioeconomic background as a better match with the rest of the student body and to perceive the university as more socioeconomically diverse than did chilliness cues. Contributions to our understanding of low-SES students’ psychological experiences in academic settings and practical implications for academic institutions are discussed.

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Citation

Browman, A. S. & Destin, M. (2016). The Effects of a Warm or Chilly Climate towards Socioeconomic Diversity on Academic Motivation and Self-Concept. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(2), 172-187. doi: 10.1177/0146167215619379.