Stereotype Threat

Being at risk of confirming, as a self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group.

What is Stereotype Threat?

Stereotype threat refers to being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group (Steele & Aronson, 1995). In several experiments, they showed that Black undergraduates performed more poorly on standardized tests than White students when their race was emphasized. When race was not emphasized, however, Black students performed better and equivalently with White students, demonstrating that performance in academic contexts can be harmed by the awareness that one’s behavior might be viewed through the lens of racial stereotypes.              

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What are the consequences of Stereotype Threat?

  • Decreased performance
  • Internal Attributions for Failure
  • Reactance
  • Ironic effects
  • Self-handicapping
  • Task discounting
  • Distancing the self from the stereotyped group
  • Disengagement and disidentification
  • Altered professional identities and aspirations
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Who is vulnerable to
Stereotype Threat?

  • Group membership
  • Domain identification
  • Group identification
  • Stigma consciousness
  • Internal locus of control / Proactive personality
  • Low coping sense of humor
  • Low impression management motivation
  • Low self-monitoring
  • Low educational level
  • Stereotype knowledge and belief
  • Status concerns
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What are the mechanisms behind
Stereotype Threat?

  • Anxiety
  • Negative cognitions and dejection emotions
  • Lowered performance expectations
  • Physiological arousal
  • Reduced effort
  • Reduced self-control
  • Reduced working memory capacity
  • Reduced creativity, flexibility, and speed
  • Excess effort
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What are the situations that lead to
Stereotype Threat?

  • Group identity salience
  • Minority status
  • Stereotype salience
  • Evaluative scrutiny
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What are the unresolved
issues about
Stereotype Threat?

  • What exactly is stereotype threat?
  • What mediates stereotype threat?
  • Difference operationalizations, same processes?
  • Are there different types of stereotype threat?
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What can be done to reduce
Stereotype Threat?

  • Reframing the task
  • Deemphasizing threatened social identities
  • Encouraging self-affirmation
  • Emphasizing high standards with assurances of capability
  • Providing role models
  • Providing external attributions for difficulty
  • Emphasizing an incremental view of ability
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What are the criticisms of
Stereotype Threat?

  • Over-reliance on college student samples
  • Stereotype threat vs. real discrimination
  • Failure to fully account for performance differences
  • Failure to generalize to real-world settings
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