Stereotype threat: Are lower status and history of stigmatization preconditions of stereotype threat? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1189-1199
This experiment was one of the first studies to examine stereotype threat in groups that are not traditionally stigmatized. If stereotype threat could be established in traditionally non-stigmatized groups, it would suggest that stereotype threat is a general phenomenon that could potentially affect anyone in contexts where expectations of low performance are invoked. Female and male undergraduates completed three tasks that had been either presented as an exercise for "better understanding the cognitive factors involved in the processing of verbal information" (control), or as a way to understand gender differences in processing affective information with the reminder that "men are not as apt as women to deal with affect in general and specifically to process affective information as effectively" (stereotype threat for men). The tasks involved participants deciding whether stimulus words were or were not affective in nature, were or were not positive, and were or were not words. Men in the stereotype threat compared with the control condition made significantly more errors on the affective discrimination task, but their performance on the other two tasks did not differ. Women showed no differences in performance in the two conditions on any task. Stereotype endorsement did not mediate the effects, but identification with the threatened domain (reflected in responses to questions about the importance of processing affective information in everyday life and in the professional life of a psychologist) predicted decrements in performance under threat. These data show that a chronic lower status or a history of stigmatization are not preconditions of stereotype threat, but that stereotype threat can occur for any group member who identifies with the domain in question.