Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S.–Asia Gaps in Interest and Positivity
The United States lags behind many Asian countries in engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An unexplored factor in these country-level differences may be U.S.–Asia gaps in perceptions of the goal opportunities provided by STEM. Across four studies, U.S. students perceived fewer communal opportunities (working with/helping/relationships with others) in STEM than Asian students; this differential perception contributed to U.S.–Asia gaps in STEM interest. Perceptions of communal opportunities in STEM did not follow from a general orientation to perceive that all careers provided communal opportunities but from communal engagement in STEM. Perceptions about communal opportunities in STEM predicted STEM interest, and communal experience in STEM predicted STEM interest beyond quantity of STEM exposure. Experimentally highlighting the perceived communal opportunities in science closed the cultural gap in positivity toward a scientist career (Study 5). Perceptions of communal opportunities in STEM provide a new vantage point to improve U.S. engagement in STEM.
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Brown, Steinberg, M., Lu, Y., & Diekman, A. B. (2018). Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S.–Asia Gaps in Interest and Positivity. Social Psychological & Personality Science, 9(1), 11–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550617703173