The performance gap between black and white Americans when it comes to test-taking was significantly narrowed during key points in Barack Obama’s ascension to the U.S. presidency, according to a study by San Diego State University researcher David Marx.

Over a three-month period last year, Marx and researchers from Northwestern and Vanderbilt universities administered an online verbal exam, which resembled the Graduate Record Exam, to 84 black Americans and 388 white Americans — a breakdown equivalent to the overall U.S. population.

The results showed that whites scored better than their black counterparts on tests administered during periods when Obama’s achievements were the least visible. However, during the points in the campaign when Obamamania was at its peak, the performance gap was all but eliminated.

“Barack Obama has been widely heralded as a role model for Black-Americans because he inspires hope,” said Marx, an SDSU professor of psychology in a news release. “This research provides evidence that this election has had a concrete beneficial effect on Black-Americans on at least this one measurable area of academic performance.”

Update: Because of miscommunication between the university and us, the original version of this post linked to a full copy of the study that was marked “not for distribution” because it is still under peer review. The link now goes to a summary of the study. We apologize.


Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.