ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (4): 484-496.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00484

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of meta-stereotype on aggressive behavior among migrant children and the mediating effect of frustration

HUANG Xiaoxiao1,ZHANG Baoshan1,2(),ZHANG Yuan1,MA Yuting1   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University
    2 Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal University, Xi’an 710061, China;
  • Received:2018-06-08 Published:2019-04-25 Online:2019-02-22
  • Contact: Baoshan ZHANG


Meta-stereotype threat (MST) refers to an unbalanced cognitive state where a person’s negative beliefs on the stereotype that out-group members hold about their own group are activated. Previous research has shown that the activation of negative meta-stereotypes contributes to social behaviors, but the mechanism of MST effects on aggressive behaviors remains unclear. Migrant children are more susceptible to meta-stereotype compared with dominant groups. However, the influences of negative meta-stereotype on migrant children’s aggressive behaviors have not been thoroughly investigated. Therefore, the current study aims to explore MST effects on migrant children’s aggressive behaviors and the mediated role of frustration between MST and aggressive behaviors. Finally, it attempts to use imagined intergroup contact to examine causes of frustration and identify the negative effects of MST.

As an exploratory study, 60 migrant children were invited to participate in study 1. They were instructed to write adjectives or words that trigger or allay negative meta-stereotypes in accordance with different instructions. Then, they were assigned to complete a balsam pear juice distribution task, which represented aggressive behaviors against local children. Study 2 was improved on the basis of study 1. This study was organized into a 2 (MST condition: activate MST or not) × 2 (attacked aim: local and migrant children) mixed design. A total of 60 migrant children participated in study 2. After writing adjectives, the participants were tasked to complete a test to ensure that meta-stereotype was evoked. Then, a frustration questionnaire and balsam pear juice task among local and migrant children were completed and measured. Study 3 was organized into a 3 (types of imagination: imagined intergroup contact, imagined scenery, and non-imagination) × 2 (attacked aim: local and migrant children) mixed design. First, 95 migrant children were asked to trigger meta-stereotypes and complete the meta-stereotype test. Next, the non-imagination group directly completed the frustration questionnaire and balsam pear juice task, whereas the migrant children of the imagined intergroup contact group imagined positive interaction with local children and the imagined scenery group imagined an outdoor scenery. Then, the two groups completed the questionnaire and balsam pear juice task. T test, ANOVA, and mediation analysis were used to analyze all data.

The following results were observed: (1) Frustration and aggressive behaviors under the MST condition were higher than those in the non-MST condition. (2) The relationship between MST and aggressive behaviors against local children was partly mediated by frustration. (3) The mediated role of frustration was further supported by the results of study 3. Imagined intergroup contact can reduce the aggressive behavior against local children by controlling frustration.

In sum, the results proved that the effects of MST on frustration among migrant children contribute to the increase of aggressive behaviors against local children.

Key words: migrant children, meta-stereotype threat, frustration, aggressive behavior.

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