Study Finds That Black Teens Who Do Well in School Often Pay the Price in Lower Social Acceptance

New research by Thomas Fuller-Rowell, a developmental psychologist at the University of Michigan, and Stacey N. Doan, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston University, has found that black teenagers are more likely than white teens to suffer socially because of success in school.

The researchers asked more than 13,000 teenagers if they felt accepted, were lonely, or believed that peers had been unfriendly to them or disliked them. The authors then analyzed these responses in relation to the grade point averages of the respondents. The results, published in the journal Child Development, found that, after controlling for differences in family, school, and socioeconomic status, black teens were more likely than their white peers to suffer from what the authors call the “nerd penalty.”