Study: High expectations could help overcome negative stereotypes, bias

Study: High expectations could help overcome negative stereotypes, bias

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

BOSTON — A local non-profit’s new report shows high expectations lead to higher achievement in low-income individuals, the organization announced Tuesday.

Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) released a report Tuesday that highlights the negative impact of bias and stereotypes on low-income individuals and proposes using the power of high expectations to combat it.

“The bottom line: coaching is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” EMPath President and CEO Elisabeth Babcock said Tuesday. “When mentors believe we can achieve high outcomes, the whole relationship changes.”

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EMPath uses a mentoring approach based on its “Bridge to Self Sufficiency.” The organization's trademarked Mobility Mentoring is based on the idea that economic hardship can negatively impact the part of the brain in charge of decision making, also known as executive functioning.

The science-based organization, formed in 2016 from the former Crittenden Women’s Union, uses its program to teach life skills that will supplement assistance out of poverty, a journey the organization says fewer than one in four people can expect to complete on their own today.

Babcock says mentors with high expectations tend to encourage their program’s participants to set and achieve more challenging goals.

She says their research indicates that individuals are more influenced by environmental cues like stereotypes and bias than previously thought.

The organization says its results from the Mobility Mentoring approach, which encourages high expectations, have been promising. EMPath’s flagship program has helped the incomes and employment rates of graduates nearly double.