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The Effects of Social Class and Race on Responsiveness to Approval and Disapproval NICHD

Rosenhan, David L.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Alienation, Black Youth, Racial Differences, Reinforcement, Social Class Differences, Social Reinforcement


An interaction theory of social class behavior was proposed in which young lower-class children were presumed to be more alienated and uncomfortable than middle-class children with middle-class people and institutions. As a consequence of alienation it was deduced that, relative to middle-class children, approval should facilitate the performance of lower-class children while disapproval should retard it. The hypothesis was substantiated. Within the lower class, there were no performance differences between Black and White Ss, indicating that for young children social class differences are more potent determiners of behavior than are racial differences. The potential implications of the data for longer term performance are noted.

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