Examining the effects of stereotype threat on test-taking behaviors

This article examined test-taking behaviors and under stereotype threat using a pre-posttest design. Undergraduates (N = 173; 51 Black, 122 White) first completed GRE-like question focused on verbal ability (pre-test) and then were exposed to a manipulation of stereotype threat. Participants were either told that the nest test was diagnostic of ability and that White and minority students perform differently on standardized tests of verbal ability (stereotype threat for Blacks) or that the test was free of racial bias (control). Participants then completed a post-test that was similar in content with the pre-test. Result showed that the performance of Black students was affected by the threat manipulation whereas White students were not. Specifically, Black students in the stereotype threat condition performed most poorly on the post-test, after statistically controlling for performance on the pre-test. Examination of test-taking behavior showed that Black participants under high stereotype threat tended to answer items more quickly and changed their responses less frequently than participants in the other three conditions. In sum, Black participants under stereotype threat tended to initially select more incorrect answers and changed these answers less often than other participants. These results show that stereotype threat can change behavior in testing contexts.

Scherbaum, C.A., Blanshetyn, V., Marshall-Wolp, E., McCue, E., & Strauss. (2011). Examining the effects of stereotype threat on test-taking behaviors. Social Psychology of Education, 14, 361-375.