Achieved Eminence in Minority and Majority Cultures: Convergence Versus Divergence in the Assessments of 294 African Americans

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Abstract

Although psychologists have often used eminence measures as individual-difference variables, no researcher has investigated the differential eminence of individuals belonging to disadvantaged minority groups. Here a sample of 294 illustrious African Americans is scrutinized from the standpoint of the majority (White) culture and the minority (Black) subculture. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of 7 Black and 10 White eminence measures indicate that (a) these measures can be explained by two latent variables but that (b) the two dimensions correlate very highly. Multiple regression analyses then showed that the Black and White composite assessments, although concurring on the impact of most predictor variables (e.g., gender, famous firsts, and Spingarn Award), could nonetheless disagree on the consequences of achievements in certain domains (e.g., athletes, blues and jazz musicians, and civil rights activists). The results have implications for the development of causal models that explain individual differences in achievement within minority- and majority-culture populations.

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