PSYC12 Lec 8
Stereotype Threat II
- Situational phenomenon that may help us understand some of the group differences in
- Predicament people find themselves in when they are at risk at confirming a negative
stereotype about their group and feel discomfort
Stereotype threat and performance
a) Group differences are real
o Differences in SAT performances, math and science performance with men and
May be due to cultural biases, environmental factors
b) ST situational counters the environmental or genetic explanation
o Says forget about environment and genetics – something IN environment itself
can change the situation
What about other stereotypes?
- There are stereotypes in the air about women in math, science, engineering, etc.
- Can it affect them?
- What kinds of situations can lead to stereotype for women or people in general?
- ST can depress women’s math test performance
Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000
- Cartoon: captures stereotype threat. Talking about a pressure all in her head – does not
mean it is real, but she is worried about how she will be perceived – this makes her feel
bad. Makes her feel like an ambassador for all women kind.
- What types of situation evoke stereotype threat?
o Process of being outnumbered
o Number of people in group vs. out-groups in a room (ex. a classroom)
o When a woman is in a math class with mostly men, there are semantic
associations about women not being good at math. Majority of men in the class
can cause the woman to think about these things
- Method: students take tests in groups of 3
o Brought males vs. females taking math test
o Sometimes women were minorities or they were in a group of all females aand
ometimes had 2 females and 1 male
o In females perspective, parametrically adjusted the number of men in the room
o Gave a math test
o Math test performance as a function of sex and sex-composition
o Women that were outnumbered did worst when they were minorities than if they
were the majority
o Did well when women were with other women
o Looking at males: Not affected by being the minority
Performed at about the same level
o Not all minority environments are bad for you. Only bad if you are a minority in a
o Also looked at verbal vs. math tests
Women did worst as minorities in the math test condition
No difference in verbal
o Female math test performance as a function of number of males in a three person
Women’s math test performance differs as we increase the number of
males in a room
When outnumbered, start to think about the things that make you
The more men in a mixed math test environment, the worst the women did
- Conclude: proportion of in-group and out-group members in an environment can affect
o Small, seemingly harmless changes can have a big impact on intellectual
o Minority environments are only harmful to stigmatized groups operating in
- story: his friend is Sri Lankan, he was a PhD student in history. Noticed he is the only
south Asian person in his department, will he show a decrease in performance?
- answer: he WON’T show any ill effects – there are no stereotypes impugning Asians, Sri
Lankans in history
What about other stereotypes?
- White Men Can’t Jump
Stone et al, 1999
- Stereotype: whites have less athletic ability than Blacks
- Will whites underperform in mini-golf when stereotype active?
o Black vs white
o Natural ability vs control
o DV: number of strokes to get the ball in the hole (lower strokes = better
o Natural ability:
Black students complete the task in fewer strokes – do better than white
No difference What other stereotypes?
- Females are worst drivers
Yeung & von Hippel, 2008
- Brought women into lab and had a real driving simulator
- Have people crossing the street
- Do the participants hit the pedestrians?
- Key manipulation: women are reminded of stereotype
o Are told: “we’re trying to see why women are perceived as worst drivers than
o Women reminded of stereotype hit pedestrians 60% of the time
Stereotype: gay men
- Are gay men anxious around children because of ST?
- May have pedophilic preferences – is NOT true
- Among some people, there is this belief
- People say gay men shouldn’t be around young children
- Brought college males self-identified as being gay or straight
- Had them interact with young children
- Looked at non-verbal cues that existed between gay vs straight men and the children
- Found: when stereotype was activated between gay men – were less warm, not as fluent
in speech, not natural
- Authors: argue that this is the anxiety they feel about the stereotype
Stereotype: being poor or not poor has something to do with school performance
- To what extent can being rich or poor have stereotype threat
- Before giving children the test, asked about parents level of income and education
o Asked before or after the test
o Was done in France – very stratified
- Subtle reminders of poverty can affect performance on an IQ test
- Situational explanation for why there are performance differences in various groups in
Stereotype: women in high positions
- Do females underperform on the negotiating table because of ST?
o Not many female CEOs of large companies over the world – not even in middle
o Could it be ST?
o Finding: women tend not to be as good negotiators relative to men - Is one of the reasons women underperform because they are worried about the
o Same types of results –when stereotypes are activated, women do worst; ONLY
when stereotypes are activated
o Worried about stereotypes about them and their group – sets a stereotype threat in
motion see poorer performance
- Which of the following groups is probably not a target of stereotype threat?
a) Women in math
b) Whites in sport
c) Men in driving ability
d) The elderly in memory performance
e) Whites in prejudiced behaviour
- Ans: c
- E when white people perform the IAT and right before they are told it will tell them if
they are racist or not, are shown to be more racist on the IAT
- Couldn’t being reminded of a stereotype create a stereotype in the lab?
- To the extent you are known, you have a reputation
o One’s individual reputation could be threatened and straining to the effect that
people are motivated to deny it
How do stereotypes threaten?
- Proximal mechanism: the mechanism that most closely touches performance =
impairments in working memory capacity
- Working memory temporarily hold and manipulate a limited number of items (7+-2)
o Depends on control of attention and mental effort
o Like a central executive
o Allows one to pay attention at the moment and maintain things in this storage
E.g. remembering a phone number
o Is affected most in stereotype threat
Schmader & Johns, 2003
- Hypothesis: ST lowers performance because it reduces working memory capacity
o Instead of thinking about a math test, for example, it occupies working memory
o The more things WM stores, the more inefficient it is
- Method: gave people a WM task – a dual process task. Can be shown a list of words;
remember the words in the order it was presented. List keeps getting bigger until limits of
memory are reached
o Females took a math test
o Stereotyped activated (threat) vs. non-activated (non-threat)
o DV: recall for words in WM task, math test performance
- Results: o Looking at regressions when women were in stereotype activation, predicted
math test performance
Did worst with stereotypes
o Also remembered less (affected working memory) which predicted math test
o Looking at relationship between stereotype threat and math test performance
o Reason ST leads to math test performance, is because it disrupts WM capacity