PHGY 313 Lecture Notes - Stereotype Threat, Gender Role

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8 Feb 2013

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Consequences of prejudice from the point of view of the target of prejudice, in specific, stereotype threat
By prejudice we are referring to a kind of attitude, a particular kind of evaluation, a negative one of a
group of people, who are defined by membership of same characteristics, race, ethnicity, occupational
status, age, sexual orientation, etc. (demographic characteristic)
An evaluation of the group as a whole
A significant component of a prejudice is a stereotype, an over generalized and false belief, no exceptions
Prejudice and stereotypes are things that we have, when we act on them, we are speaking on
discrimination; discrimination is something that we do, explicitly behaviour
Prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a belief, and discrimination is a behaviour
To discriminate is to treat people different based on their group membership, most common forms are
limiting access to resources, denying opportunities such as jobs, economic opportunities
Where do our prejudices come from? Many sources of prejudices, but one commonly sited and studied
from a classic study is the Sherif Camp Study, kids were isolated in a camp and randomly assigned to
two different cabins which were isolated from each other, the cabins had characteristics that
represented two different things, rattlers and eagles, and participated in different activities as a group
Competitive interactions between two groups, and within a very short period of time, there was an
escalating extent of verbal and physical aggression, kids would tease each other, and eventually
escalated to camp invasions, destroy/remove property, etc., emerged spontaneously
Each group wanted to elevate their status within their group
Conclusion was that competition cultivated a kind of out group denigration, condemned members of out
Through the course of evolution, this might have had an adaptive value, in earlier points of history when
we were in tribal bands, this kind of ability may have been of benefit (favour people from one’s own
group from another)
Consequences of these actions, prejudice, are stereotype threats, a particular kind of discomfort or distress,
when they are representing their group on some kind of performance related activity
Imagine a member of a group that is under discrimination, and they are seen weaker in some kind of
ability, and now you must perform it, the theory goes, this additional burden that you are aware that
you are bad at this ability, and you have to perform as good as everyone else and better than what
others expect, and these kinds of cognitions, confirms the stereotype that people have of you due to the
e.g. study of women who were asked to do a math test, and prior to taking it, they were told there were
gender differences on the test, it was left for the women to assume that women did more poorly, and
under this condition, it was compromised, and by just being told that women did poorly, the drop in
performance was obtained (they simply affirmed and confirmed the stereotype, that math is hard for
Teen talking Barbie doll, the doll uttered ‘math is hard’, which caused much controversy
This didn’t happen in the 50s or 70s, but in 1992, pervasive and persistent beliefs, in our generation
Can the fact that people in fact believe this in women, actually play a role in math related domains?
It is of interest to note that in the domains for math, science, and engineering, women are under
represented, just in undergraduate classrooms as of 1996,1997, women made up 1/3 of these programs
(overwhelming male predominant field)
What is it that makes your gender salient? What brings your gender to mind? Just by simply looking
around their classroom and seeing a smaller attendance of women discourages them, makes your
gender salient, and play a role in compromising your role in that context
Is a situational cue, like gender composition, relative number of men vs. women, enough to create a
threatening stereotypical climate, where stereotypes are in your mind, conscious or not
Study of women, one group took a standardized math test, and two groups that had no gender stereotpye
salient, a verbal test
Another set of conditions, referred to group composition, they were in the room with two other people,
either of two other women, or two other men (one woman vs. two men, or one women vs. two
women)à would this change performance on a test, and in particular a math test?
(slide 8) there was a direct relationship, when women took verbal test with women/men, there was no
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