A growing body of research documents how experiences of threat and rejection are pervasive for racial/ethnic minorities, lower-income students, and women in many educational environments. In this talk, Mendoza-Denton will share some of his lab's contributions to this body of work. Harnessing experimental and longitudinal methodologies, he will mainly draw on the lab's work on status-based rejection sensitivity, a contextually-activated disposition to anxiously expect rejection on the basis of a marginalized group membership (e.g., race, social class, gender). He will discuss research showing how status-based rejection sensitivity interacts with a number of other intrapersonal (e.g., entity theories), interpersonal (e.g., cross-race friendships) and contextual (e.g., room decor) variables to provide an emerging picture of how the threat of group-based rejection can affect stable processing dynamics as well as “get under the skin,” but also be shifted depending on contextual variables. This approach helps elucidate the mechanisms that explain how experiences of rejection and threat undermine academic achievement and personal well-being as well as provide a window into how and when the pernicious effect of such experiences on underrepresented groups in academia can be altered.

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