Lecture 8: Stereotype II
Stereotype Threat and Performance
Group differences are real, but:
• What do they mean?
• Where do they come from?
ST situational (vs. genetic vs. environmental) account of group differences in intellectual
Barbie saying ‘math is hard’. News articles telling women that they’re not able to
compete in the math world.
ST can depress women’s math test performance
Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000
What type of situation evokes stereotype threat?
Method: Students take tests in groups of three
• Male vs Female students taking math test
• Minority (2 M vs 1 F) vs. same sex-group (3 F)
• Added mixed-majority condition (1 M vs 2 F) Proportion of in-group and out-group members in an environment can affect intellectual
Small, seemingly harmless changes can have big impact on intellectual performance
Minority environments are only harmful to stigmatized groups operating in stereotyped
• You tend to start realizing the things that make you the minority and the other
ideas that are associated with that minority-quality
iClicker question and answer: If Asohan (a Sri-Lankan student) went into a class where
he was the only member of that ethnicity, what would happen to his performance?
• He won’t show any ill effects, according to the above study
Other stereotype: white people are bad at sports
Stone et al. (1999)
Stereotype: Whites have less athletic ability than Blacks
• Will Whites underperform in mini-golf when stereotype active?
• Black vs White
• Natural Ability vs Control
o Some were told ‘this test measures natural athletic ability?’
• DV: Number of strokes (lower strokes = better performance) Both are slightly threatened when told that natural ability was being measured.
However, whites performed far worse.
Other stereotype: women are bad drivers
Brought women into a driving stimulator that was built exactly like a real car. They gave
the women an extremely hard course and counted to see how many times they hit a
• They then made the stereotype present to some of the women
• Men, under similar conditions, did not show the same effect when told about the
Stereotypes aren’t true, usually, however they do create ‘self-fulfilling prophecies’.
Other stereotype: Are gay men anxious around children because of ST?
When gay childcare workers are told about this stereotype, the workers became more
anxious around the children – distancing themselves from the children
Other stereotype: Do poor people underperform on tests because of ST?
Poor people, when they were reminded of their socioeconomic status, performed worse
on a standardized test. • Important results for things like SATs
Other stereotype: Do females underperform on the negotiating table because of ST?
Don’t find many female CEOs and they are usually underpaid, as compared to male
Research shows that this can happen – stereotype that women aren’t as good
Not everyone is susceptible to stereotype threats – some are actually challenged by
them to do better.
iClicker question and answer: Which of the following groups is probably not the target of
• Men in driving ability
o Maybe? Look at insurance policies – men are charged higher because,
statistically, they are riskier drivers
How to Stereotypes Threaten?
Proximal mechanism: ST temporarily impairs working memory
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 Acute stress response: Confirming negative stereotype is unnerving
Monitoring: Vigilance to cues in the environment, internal states, and performance
Suppression: Pushing away negative thoughts and feelings
Distraction (proximal mediator): People less capable of maintaining attention on central
Integrated Process Model of ST
Female CEO example
Female CEO walks into the boardroom, wants to have a merger with another company.
She’s being pushed by shareholders to get this deal on good terms. If she doesn’t,
everyone will be upset – stocks will go down – she might get fired.
She is negotiating with a man. Makes a threat appraisal – may have a stress response,
becomes worried. Is now monitoring the man, trying to see if he’s being sexist. May also
be monitoring herself, to make sure she’s not making any mistakes.
But she tries to suppress this, to focus on the business. But this takes working memory
and she’s distracted. May not do as well as she could have on the deal.
Stereotype lift: stereotypes help the majority group a bit and make it worse for the
minority iClicker question and answer: how would a stereotype threat lead a female CEO to