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Title:Explaining the black-white gap in cognitive test scores: toward a theoretical model of adverse impact
Author(s):Cottrell, Jonathan
Advisor(s):Newman, Daniel A.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Adverse Impact
cognitive ability
Abstract:In understanding the causes of adverse impact, a key parameter is the Black-White difference in cognitive ability test scores. To advance theoretical understanding of why there exist Black-White cognitive test score gaps, and of how these gaps develop over time, the current paper proposes an inductive explanatory model derived from past empirical findings. According to this theoretical model, Black-White group mean differences in cognitive test scores arise from the following disparate conditions: child birth order, maternal cognitive ability scores, the presence of learning materials in the home, parenting factors (maternal warmth and acceptance, safe physical environment, and maternal sensitivity), child birthweight, and family income. Results from a growth model estimated on children in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development from age 4 years through age 15 show significant Black-White cognitive test score gaps throughout children’s early development, but these gaps do not grow significantly over time (i.e., significant intercept differences, but not slope differences). Further, the first four disparate conditions listed above fully account for the relationship between race and cognitive test scores. We conclude by proposing a parsimonious four-channel model that fully explains the racial cognitive test score gap. These results attempt to fill a longstanding need for theory on the etiology of the Black-White ethnic group gap in cognitive test scores, suggesting adverse impact may have developmental origins that begin before applicants even start searching for jobs.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Jonathan Cottrell
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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