Individual differences in working memory moderate stereotype-threat effects

This article investigated the impact of stereotype threat on individual differences in working memory in a group of advanced French engineering students (N = 117). Participants were administered a reading span task to measure dispositional working memory, and the Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices task was administered under one of two conditions. In one condition, participants were told that the task was diagnostic of their logical reasoning ability (stereotype threat for women) or, in a second condition, that it was diagnostic but gender-fair (control). For women low in working memory capacity, performance under stereotype threat was worse than under no threat. The performance of women high in working memory capacity was not affected by the manipulation of stereotype threat. These results show that stereotype threat can impose demands on working memory, negatively affecting the performance of individuals with lower chronic memory capacity.

Regner, I., Smeding, A., Gimmig, Thinus-Blanc, C., Monteil, J-M., & Huguet, P. (2010). Individual differences in working memory moderate stereotype-threat effects. Psychological Science, 21, 1646-1648.