Positive Reinforcement Versus Stereotypes

19:41 Tue 30 Nov 2010
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In some settings, at least, it looks like positive reinforcement can win. A Colorado physics lecturer had his students do writing exercises designed to aid their sense of self-worth, and these exercises significantly reduce the performance gap between the genders.

One of the amazing things about this is that the exercises are done at the start of the course, but their effects last throughout (I’d seen previous studies with similar effects which required action immediately before exams). This seems like a fantastic tool to have available in fighting against sexism—or other prejudices, for that matter—and I hope to see it refined and made more widely available.

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