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Can Short Psychological Interventions Affect Educational Performance? Revisiting the Effect of Self-Affirmation Interventions.

  • Author(s): Serra-Garcia, Marta
  • Hansen, Karsten T
  • Gneezy, Uri
  • et al.
Abstract

Large amounts of resources are spent annually to improve educational achievement and to close the gender gap in sciences with typically very modest effects. In 2010, a 15-min self-affirmation intervention showed a dramatic reduction in this gender gap. We reanalyzed the original data and found several critical problems. First, the self-affirmation hypothesis stated that women's performance would improve. However, the data showed no improvement for women. There was an interaction effect between self-affirmation and gender caused by a negative effect on men's performance. Second, the findings were based on covariate-adjusted interaction effects, which imply that self-affirmation reduced the gender gap only for the small sample of men and women who did not differ in the covariates. Third, specification-curve analyses with more than 1,500 possible specifications showed that less than one quarter yielded significant interaction effects and less than 3% showed significant improvements among women.

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