Revisiting the Obama effect

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

August 20, 2020

Revisiting the Obama effect


On Aug. 11, 2020, democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.  Senator Harris is the first black woman and first Asian American person to be on a major party’s presidential ticket. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers reported evidence that the effects of stereotype threat were lessened immediately after Barack Obama was elected president.

What the researchers deemed the “Obama Effect” may give insight into the significance of Senator Harris’s nomination.

Senators Harris is the daughter of immigrant parents. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, moved from India to California in 1958 and received a Ph.D. in Endocrinology at UC Berkeley. Her father, Donald J. Harris, immigrated from British Jamaica to California in 1963 and also earned his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. Shyamala and Donald married in 1963, giving birth to Senator Harris in 1964 in Oakland, California.

Given Senator Harris’s Indian and Jamaican heritage, history is in the making with her vice-presidential nominee. She is the first African American, the first Indian American, and the third female to be picked as the vice-presidential nominee for a major party ticket. 

Click here to read the full article published by Physchology Today on 17 August 2020.