Testing stereotype threat: Does anxiety explain race and sex differences in achievement? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 26, 291-310
This experiment examined whether anxiety might account for racial differences in academic performance and gender differences in math performance under stereotype threat. Data reflecting the performance of approximately 28,000 high school seniors in vocabulary, reading, and mathematics were drawn from a national database. The database also included student self-reports of the anxiety they experienced when taking the tests. Results demonstrated that White students tended to outperform Black students, and also experienced less anxiety during the tests. Statistically controlling for anxiety reduced the strength of the relationship between race and test performance. Similarly, boys reported lower levels of anxiety and outperformed girls in mathematics, and statistically controlling for anxiety reduced the gender-performance link. Drawing from a large and real-world sample, this study suggests that anxiety might account for the reduced performance under conditions that typically produce stereotype threat in controlled laboratory settings.