Black and white tokens in academia: A difference of chronic versus acute distinctiveness
Token status effects, also called distinctiveness, include feelings of racial/gender awareness, representativeness, and accountability. In this multimethod three-part research, it is argued that Black students in a predominantly White university feel chronically distinctive, whereas White students may feel acutely distinctive when they are in the numerical minority. However, this acute distinctiveness is situation specific. First a pilot study confirmed that Black and White females differ in their reports of distinctiveness. Study 1 showed that Black students feel chronically distinctive and that they are often "solos" in classrooms. Study 2 tried to separate race and solo status effects on distinctiveness by experimentally manipulating group solo status. Results indicate a main effect for solo status and also a main effect for race on feelings of distinctiveness across solo conditions. Applications of this research for the token literature and for distinctiveness theory are discussed.
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