Understanding the stereotype threat effect with "culture-free" tests: An examination of its mediators and measurement

This paper built on previous work (McKay, Doverspike, Bowen-Hilton, & Martin, 2002) examining the effects of stereotype threat on performance of Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) task, a nonverbal task that has been described as "culture-reduced" and a relatively "pure" measure of cognitive ability and reasoning. In this experiment, Black and White undergraduates were told they would take a test frequently used in professional personnel selection. The test was actually the APM, which was described either as assessing intelligence (stereotype threat for Blacks) or perceptual ability (control). Measures included test performance, general stereotype threat (the degree that individuals believe society views their group in terms of a negative stereotype), and specific stereotype threat ( the degree that individuals are concerned with doing well in a specific situation). Although Blacks reported more general stereotype threat and more specific stereotype threat than Whites in the threat condition, test performance did not reflect stereotype threat performance decrements; overall, Blacks performed more poorly than Whites, regardless of the task description. Manipulation check data indicate that Blacks showed some stereotype threat even in the control condition. Thus, it appears Blacks overall lower performance might be accounted to stereotype threat (see Brown & Day, 2006). These data also point to the benefit of distinguishing general from specific forms of stereotype threat.

Mayer, D. M., & Hanges, P. J. (2003). Understanding the stereotype threat effect with "culture-free" tests: An examination of its mediators and measurement. Human Performance, 16, 207-230.

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