Stereotype threat and feedback seeking in the workplace

This correlational study investigated stereotype threat in workplace settings, focusing on the impact of solo status. A total of 166 Black members of an association for Black professionals in utility industries responded to a survey on work experiences and attitudes. Individuals who were the sole minority in their department reported experiencing a greater degree of stereotype threat in the work environment. In addition, stereotype threat affected feedback monitoring such that individuals experiencing higher degrees of stereotype threat were more likely to compare themselves with peers, to observe what behaviors are rewarded to modify their own performance, to notice how they were treated by their manager and the characteristics of people who are rewarded by their manager, and to pay attention to interactions with peers, feedback from others, and casual remarks. Stereotype threat also predicted feedback discounting, such that Blacks who experienced stereotype threat in the workplace were more likely to dismiss the feedback they received, doubt its accuracy, and question the motivations of the feedback source. This study highlights some of the real-world implications of stereotype threat that arise from solo status.

Roberson, L., Deitch, E. A., Brief, A. P., & Block, C. J. (2003). Stereotype threat and feedback seeking in the workplace. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62, 176-188.

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