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PSYC12H3 Lecture Notes - Miniature Golf, Cognitive Load, Stereotype Threat

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Michael Inzlicht

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Week 8 PSYC12
PSYC12 Experiencing Prejudice II
Stereotype Threat and Performance
- Group differences are real, but:
o What do they mean?
o Where do they come from?
- Stereotyped Threat (ST) situational (vs. genetic vs. environmental) account of group differences in
intellectual performance
o Counter to the genetic or environmental, because those other factors are hard or impossible to
change. ST is very much flexible and can be dispersed easily, thus it is a much more effective
Other stereotypes?
- Women and math (e.g., Barbie doll says “math is hard”)
- ST can depress women’s math test performance
- The ST in women is all in their heads. She is worried to be perceived on stereotypical grounds
- The relative representation of your group in a stereotyped domain can determine the effects of ST on
your performance
- You cannot be affected by a stereotype about your group that you are not aware of
Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000
Method: students take tests in groups of three
- Male vs. female students taking math test
- Minority (2 M vs 1F) vs. same sex-group (3F)
- Added mixed-majority condition (1M vs 2F)
- Females taking math tests in the minority condition did worse than females taking the math tests in the
same-sex condition
- It does not affect men
- Results also show that women performed better in (1M vs 2F) than in minority condition, but worse
than same-sex condition. I.e., the more men added to the mix, the worse women performed
A similar study had men and women take a math test and a verbal test. The results show that women were not
affected in the verbal test under minority or same-sex condition.
- Proportion of in-group and out-group members in an environment can affect intellectual performance
- Small, seemingly harmless changes can have big impact on intellectual performance. E.g., a computer
science firm has less female washrooms than male washrooms
- Minority environments are only harmful to stigmatized groups operating in stereotyped domains
Stone et al., 1999
Stereotype: white have less athletic ability than blacks. Will whites underperform in mini-golf when stereotype is
Method: black vs. white
- Told participants that golf is based on natural ability
- DV: number of strokes (lower strokes = better performance)
- Results show that whites in the ‘natural ability’ condition did worse than whites in the control condition
where they were told nothing about it
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Week 8 PSYC12
Yeung & Von Hippel, 2008
Brought women into a lab to operate a car on a driving simulator. Women drove worse, i.e., hit pedestrians
more, when they are explicitly told that they are being assessed on their driving ability
Are gay men more anxious around children because of ST?
- Method: brought in college students that were either gay or straight and they had the opportunity to
interact with young children. The experimenters observed gay people’s nonverbal behaviours
- The results show that when they are primed with the stereotype that gay people are pedophiles and
should not be trusted near children, they acted more reserved, cold, and distant
Do poor people underperform on tests because of ST?
- Method: brought in students to do a standardized test. The students had to give the experimenters their
parents’ income and education level. Students had to either do this before or after the standardized test
- Result shows that poor students that gave out income and education information before the
standardized test performed worse
How do Stereotypes Threaten?
Proximal mechanism: ST temporarily impairs working memory
Working memory is the ability to temporarily hold and manipulate information for cognitive tasks performed in
daily life
- It holds information for a few seconds. It is temporary
- Working memory can hold only five to seven items at a time. It has a small capacity
- Working memory holds and manipulates information
- Working memory depends on control of attention and mental effort
Schmader & Johns, 2003
Hypothesis: ST lowers test performance because it reduces WM capacity
- WM: ability to stay focused and inhibit unwanted thoughts
WM task: dual processing task
- Shown word list; asked to recall words later, in order
- Females took math test
- Stereotype activated (threat) vs. non-activated (non-threat)
- DV: Recall for words in WM task, math test performance
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