Values Affirmation Is Powerful

Values affirmation has been found in many studies to significantly improve academic performance in “negatively stereotyped” groups (blacks, Hispanics, and women in STEM), and these effects are long-lasting, continuing up to a year after the last exercise.[1] Values affirmation causes about a 40% reduction in the black-white GPA gap, concentrated in the middle- and low-performing students.[4]

Otium

One of the most startlingly effective things I’ve seen in the psychology literature is the power of “self-affirmation.”

The name is a bit misleading. The “self-affirmation” described in these studies isn’t looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re beautiful.  It’s actually values affirmation — writing short essays about what’s important to you in life (things like “family”, “religion”, “art”) and why you value them. The standard control intervention is writing about why a value that’s not very important to you might be important to someone else.

Values affirmation has been found in many studies to significantly improve academic performance in “negatively stereotyped” groups (blacks, Hispanics, and women in STEM), and these effects are long-lasting, continuing up to a year after the last exercise.[1]  Values affirmation causes about a 40% reduction in the black-white GPA gap, concentrated in the middle- and low-performing students.[4]

Values affirmation exercises reduce the cortisol…

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