Brief social-psychological interventions, like the values affirmation (VA), that target individual feelings of competency and buffer against social threats, have been shown to effectively reduce achievement gaps in randomised controlled trials. In the current study, underrepresented minority and first-generation college students in their first university semester (N = 496) were randomly assigned to receive the VA electronically or complete an online survey (control). Results revealed: (a) VA participants did not engage with the intervention in a manner typical of past VA studies that delivered the intervention as a class activity; (b) VA students had lower semester grade point averages (GPAs) than control students; and (c) contrary to previous studies, neither stereotype threat nor social belonging moderated the effectiveness of the VA. These findings further emphasise the importance of the context within which the VA is delivered and highlight the challenges that accompany increasing the reach of the VA through a widespread, online delivery.
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