Joshua Aronson

Associate Professor of Applied Psychology

Joshua Aronson

Phone: (212) 998-5543

 Most of my work seeks to understand and remediate race and gender gaps in educational achievement and standardized test performance. Often, the low performance of blacks in particular, but other minorities as well, gets casually chalked up to genetic or cultural differences that supposedly block acquisition of skills or values necessary for academic achievement. In sharp contrast, my students, colleagues, and I have uncovered some exciting and encouraging answers to these old questions by looking at the psychology of stigma - the way human beings respond to negative stereotypes about their racial or gender group. What we have found suggests that being targeted by well-known cultural stereotypes ("blacks are unintelligent", "girls can't do math", and so on) can be very threatening, a predicament my mentor and I called "Stereotype Threat." Stereotype threat engenders a number of interesting psychological and physiological responses, many of which interfere with intellectual performance and academic motivation. I have conducted numerous studies showing how stereotype threat depresses the standardized test performance of black, Latino, and female college students. These same studies showed how changing the testing situation (even subtly) to reduce stereotype threat, can dramatically improve standardized test scores. This work offers a far more optimistic view of race and gender gaps than the older theories that focused on poverty, culture, or genetic factors. We have found that we can do a lot to boost both achievement and the enjoyment of school by understanding and attending to these psychological processes, thereby unseating the power of stereotypes and prejudice to foil the academic aspirations of the young people who, just by virtue of being born black, brown, or female, are subjected to suspicions of inferiority.


A particular focus of my recent work is on creating scalable interventions that any teacher can use to imrove the performance and learning of their students. 

Degrees Held

  • M.A. Princeton
    Social Psychology
  • Ph.D. Princeton
    Social Psychology
  • B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz


  • Career Award: National Science Foundation
  • Kidder Early Career Award: American Psychological Association (Division 9)
  • Faculty Scholar Award: William T. Grant Foundation
  • Research Mentor Award: University of Texas
  • G. Stanley Hall Award : American Psychological Association
  • Daniel E. Griffiths Research Prize: New York University
  • Visiting Fellow: Russell Sage Foundation
  • Fellow: Association of Psychological Scientists
  • 2009 : Teaching Excellence Award, Steinhardt School
  • 2011 : Fellow: Society of Personality and Social Psychology
  • 2012 : Esther Katz Rosen Lecturer (American Psychological Foundation)

Selected Publications

  • Aronson, J. & Aronson, E. (2011). Readings About the Social Animal, 11th edition. New York, Worth/Freeman (link)
  • Aronson, J. (2002). Improving academic achievement: Impact of Psychological Factors on Education. San Diego: Academic Press. (link)
  • Aronson, J. & Steele, C.M. (2005). Stereotypes and the fragility of human competence, motivation, and self-concept. In C. Dweck & E. Elliot (Eds.), Handbook of Competence & Motivation. New York, Guilford.
  • Aronson, J. & Inzlicht, M. (2004). The ups and downs of attributional ambiguity: Stereotype vulnerability and the academic self-knowledge of African-American students. Psychological Science, 15, 12, 829-836.
  • Aronson, J., Lustina, M. J., Good, C., Keough, K., Steele, C. M., & Brown, J. (1999). When white men can't do math: Necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 29-46.
  • Aronson, J. , Fried, C. & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat on African American College Students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 38, 113-125.
  • Aronson, J., Steele, C. M., Salinas, M. F. Lustina, M. J. (1998). The effects of stereotype threat on the standardized test performance of college students. In E. Aronson, (Ed.), Readings About the Social Animal (8th edition). New York: Freeman.
  • Steele, C. M. & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69(5), 797-811.
  • Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1998). How stereotypes influence the standardized test performance of talented African American students. In C. Jencks & M. Phillips (Eds.), The Black-White Test Score Gap. Washington, D. C.: Brookings Institution, 401-427.
  • Good, C., Aronson, J. Inzlicht, M. (2003). Improving Adolescents' Standardized Test Performance: An Intervention to Reduce the Effects of Stereotype Threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 645-662.
  • Aronson, J. & McGlone, M. (2007). Stereotype threat. In T. Nelson (Ed.) The Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination. New York: Guilford.
  • McGlone, M., & Aronson, J. (2006). Social identity salience and stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 486 - 493.
  • Suzuki, L. & Aronson, J. (2004). Cultural Malleability of the Racial/Ethnic Hierarchy of Intelligence. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.
  • Good, C. Aronson, J., & Harder, J. (2007). Problems in the Pipeline: Women's Achievement in High-Level Math Courses. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
  • Inzlicht, M., McKay, L., & Aronson, J. (2006). Stigma as ego depletion: How being the target of prejudice affects self-control. Psychological Science, 17, 262-269.
  • Aronson, J. Jannone, S., McGlone, M.S. & Johnson-Campbell, T. (2009). The Obama effect: An experimental test. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.45, 4, 957-960.
  • Alter, A., Aronson, J., Darley, J. Rodriguez, C., & Ruble, D., N. (2010). Rising to the threat: Reducing stereotype threat by reframing the threat as a challenge. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 166–171.
  • Gonzales, M. H., Tavris, C., Aronson, J. (2010). The scientist and the humanist: A festschrift in honor of Elliot Aronson. New York: Psychology Press.
  • Aronson, J. & Dee, T. (2011). Stereotype threat in the real world. In Schmader, T. & Inzlicht, M. (Eds.) Stereotype threat: Theory, Process, and Application. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
  • Nisbett, R.E., Aronson, J., Blair, C., Dickens, W., Flynn, J., Halpern, D. F., & Turkheimer, E. (2012). Intelligence: New findings and theoretical developments. American Psychologist, 67(2), 130-159.
  • Protzko, J. Aronson, J. & Blair, C. (2012). How to make a young child smarter: A meta-analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science.


  • Graduate Social Psychology
  • Developmental psychology seminar
  • Undergraduate Social Psychology
  • Urban Education: The Role of Research in Transforming Urban Schools
  • Academic Achievement Gaps
  • The Teaching of Critical Thinking 
  • Human Intelligence

Research Interests

  • increasing Intelligence, self-control, and social skills
  • Race, social class, and ethnicity
  • Urban Education
  • Stereotyping/prejudice
  • Social psychology of education
  • Self-esteem,cognitive dissonance,self-affirmation
  • School intervention research