Women cant jump? An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat
This article investigated whether gender stereotypes associated with different performance domains affect whether competition affects performance. Participants (N = 234; 117 male, 117 female) completed a task that was presumed to stereotypically advantage men (maze games), women (pattern matching and memory), or neither group (word generation). The task was done either under high competitive (i.e., financial compensation for the individual best performer) or low competitive (i.e., financial compensation determined randomly) instructions. Consistent with stereotype threat, competitive pressure increased participants performance according to the match between the task and gender. Men improved under competitive pressure for the stereotypically male task, and women improved under competitive pressure for the stereotypically female task. Although stereotype threat was not directly measured in this study, the findings suggest that reducing competition can bolster performance on tasks where ones group is negatively stereotyped.