And speaking of the inauguration and thinking…

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Here’s a small — and as yet unreviewed and unreplicated — study that seems to show an “Obama Effect” on African-American test takers:

Researchers in the last decade assembled university students with identical SAT scores and administered tests to them, discovering that blacks performed significantly poorer when asked at the start to fill out a form identifying themselves by race. The researchers attributed those results to anxiety that caused them to tighten up during exams in which they risked confirming a racial stereotype.

In the study made public on Thursday, Dr. Friedman and his colleagues compiled a brief test, drawing 20 questions from the verbal sections of the Graduate Record Exam, and administering it four times to about 120 white and black test-takers during last year’s presidential campaign.

On the initial test last summer, whites on average correctly answered about 12 of 20 questions, compared with about 8.5 correct answers for blacks, Dr. Friedman said. But on the tests administered immediately after Mr. Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, and just after his election victory, black performance improved, rendering the white-black gap “statistically nonsignificant,” he said.

If it holds up, it’ll be the most important thing Obama’s presidency will have achieved, no matter what else he does.

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8 Responses to “And speaking of the inauguration and thinking…”

  1. Whitney Says:

    That is wonderful news. I would very much like to see this replicated. The stereotype threat phenomenon, however, can be manipulated, and has been shows to have similar effects with women, men, asians, and even whites performing “significantly” lower that whatever the comparison group was. Fascinatin’ stuff. Keep in mind that given a large enough population, even 1/2 a point can be statistically significant. (I know you know this, JU, not lecturing, just pointing something out.)

    I wish I had time to post excerpts from some articles, but I am way overloaded. Just wanted to pop in.

  2. urbino Says:

    I thought you might find this one interesting, Whitney.

    Keep in mind that given a large enough population, even 1/2 a point can be statistically significant. (I know you know this, JU, not lecturing, just pointing something out.)

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re saying, but since it’s math-related, there’s a good chance I don’t know it.

  3. DeJon05 Says:

    I can run a chi square, Whit. It’s fun to get research quips… kinda.

  4. Whitney Says:

    Gosh, you had to go and ask me to get nerdy.
    The larger a sample size (I should not have said population, that was a mistake), the smaller differences can be and still be significant.

    For example, if you’re looking at height differences based on hair color, with a sample size of 100 you’re not likely to find any significant difference in height between blondes (Mean=55″) and brunettes (Mean=56″) (Contrived data…just gotta say), which would be the logical conclusion, right? But if you have a sample size of 1000, you might see that 1″ difference STATISTICALLY significant. If you increase your sample size to 10000, you’re virtually guaranteed that that difference is statistically significant. It has to do with the way significance is measure, which is why researchers have to calculate their ideal sample size. Bigger samples are not necessarily more telling. In fact, you have to be careful. Small samples, on the other hand, may not show a significant difference where in fact one may exist.

    I know that is clear as mud. The main point being that with statistics, you have to figure out what “significant” really means and how it was calculated, etc. When you see “significant” with a sample of n=100, it probably really is significantly significant. 🙂

    Dej, you totally crack me up. Love me some Chi square.

  5. Whitney Says:

    Oh, and Dej, thanks for not writing Chi square-d.

  6. urbino Says:

    The larger a sample size (I should not have said population, that was a mistake), the smaller differences can be and still be significant.

    Oh, that.

  7. Joe Says:

    My girl is wicked smaht!

  8. urbino Says:

    That’s the word on the street.

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