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Solo status and self-construal: being distinctive influences racial self-construal and performance apprehension in African American women.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA.


A preliminary study and main experiment tested the hypothesis that racial solo status (being the only member of one's race in a group) increases racial self-construal among African Americans. The preliminary study showed that African American men and women reported greater collectivist (i.e., group-based) over individualist self-construal under solo compared to nonsolo status, whereas Whites did not. The main experiment showed that the increased collectivism among African American solo women appears to be strongly reflected in racial identity becoming a salient aspect of self-construal. African American participants were also more likely than Whites to perceive that their anticipated performance would be generalized to their race, to feel like representatives of their race, and to show greater performance apprehension (indirectly evidenced by increased self-handicapping) when in racial solo status. The implications of solo status for African Americans in evaluative situations (such as academic testing sessions) are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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