When positive stereotypes threaten intellectual performance: The psychological hazards of "model minority" status
This study used a blatant manipulation to highlight a social identity of Asian-American females for which there exists opposing stereotype-based expectations of performance. Asian-American undergraduates highly identified in mathematics completed a task involving quantitative skills. Prior to performing the task, the women answered questions about either the centrality and importance of their racial identity (race highlighted), their gender identity (gender highlighted), or about their personal identity (control). Performance was significantly worse in the racial identity compared with the control condition, but there was no significant difference between the control and the gender identity condition. Poorer performance on the mathematics task was at least partially attributable to self-reported difficulty of the women in the race salient condition to maintain their concentration on the task. These data show that even stereotypes of superior performance can interfere with effective functioning when those stereotypes are highlighted in a strong and public manner.