Individual differences in implicit theories of leadership ability and self-efficacy: Predicting responses to stereotype threat

This article investigated how responses to stereotype threat regarding leadership are affected by self-efficacy and implicit theories of leadership. Participants were undergraduate women (N = 51) who first completed questionnaires on their implicit theory of leadership (e.g., To be honest, you cant really change your ability to lead) and their leadership self-efficacy (e.g., Overall, I believe that I can lead a workgroup successfully). One week later they attended a lab session where, to induce stereotype threat, they were given statistical evidence that men are more likely to be leaders than women and were also told that the task they were about to complete was to explore why these numbers are so high for men and low for women. Participants were then told they would engage in a group task where they were to be either a leader or participant. The task did not actually occur; instead, participants again indicated their leadership self-efficacy and self-esteem. Results showed that incremental beliefs about leadership ability predicted greater self-esteem after experiencing stereotype threat, particularly among people with low leadership efficacy. In other words, incremental theories suggesting that leadership can be developed allowed individuals with low perceived self-competence to be relatively unaffected by stereotype threat.

Burnette, J. L., Pollack, J. M., & Hoyt, C. L. (2010). Individual differences in implicit theories of leadership ability and self-efficacy: Predicting responses to stereotype threat. Journal of Leadership Studies, 3, 46-56.

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