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PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter all: Stereotype Threat, Ethnic Stereotype, Ageism

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Michael Inzlicht

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Chapter 1: Introduction
Stereotype threat is the most widely studied social psychological concepts of the past 20 years
stereotype threat seeks to identify how factors in the immediate performance situation
contribute to the appearance of systematic differences in ability
review the four main sections of the book:
1) an examination of basic processes that trigger and mediate how negative stereotypes impair
2) a discussion of recent theoretical extensions to the original formulation of the theory
3) a review of the variety of groups in which stereotype threat has been documented
4) a description of how the theory can be applied to alleviate the debilitating effects that negative
stereotypes can have in academic contexts
21st century has brought with it unparalleled levels of diversity in the classroom and the
not uncommon to see in elementary, high school, and university classroomsa global mixture
of ethnicities, races, genders, and religious affiliations
many countries have come to embrace not only the idea of basic human rights but also
egalitarian principles of equal opportunity extended to each and every member of that society
increases in academic & economic opportunities show promise of not only greater intergroup
harmony, but also the elimination of group disparities in academic performance, career
opportunities, and levels of advancement
this promise has not been met
glance at national statistics reveals sobering results
recent data collected by the U.S.-based National Assessment of Educational Progress (2009),
blacks and Latinos continue to trail whites in standardized measures of reading and
mathematics at all age levels
the race gap has not changed in any significant way since about 1990
measurable progress has not been made in performance in nearly two decades
one concludes that this is an American phenomenon, data indicate that similar gaps exist
--> white achievement gaps in Canada
--> socioeconomic gaps in France
--> ChristianMuslim gaps in the Netherlands
--> AshkenaziSephardic gaps in Israel
data reveal some similarities in the gender gap in math and science achievement and
there is only a narrow gender gap in standard measures of math achievement in high school
--> this gap is large and significant on university entrance tests like the Scholastic Assessment
gender gap has not diminished since 1994, despite women now being better high school
students overall, over-representing men in the top 10% of their 2010 classes
women also remain a minority in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics, earning about 25% of the highest degrees in these fields despite approaching
equality with men in the fields of medicine, business, and law
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What Causes the Achievement Gap?
invoked either nature or nurture, either biological and genetic explanations, or ones based on
culture and socialization
their controversial book, The Bell Curve, for example, Herrnstein and Murray (1994) claim that
the race gap in academic achievement has at its root real biological differences that contribute
to variation in IQ
--> Blacks and Latinos, in other words, perform worse than whites because they are genetically
endowed with inferior intelligence
Harvard University president Lawrence Summers’ controversial allusions to women’s inferior
intrinsic aptitude being only the most high-profile of recent examples.
nurture side of the debate is the view that racial, ethnic, and religious minorities and women are
products of sociocultural environments that frustrate the development of the appropriate skills,
values, and motivation needed for success
--> e.g. being raised in a low-income familywhich is highly associated with raceoften means
having less access to educational resources, in addition to limited access to health care and
nutrition, both of which contribute to lower academic performance
• cultural and socialization pressures may also contribute to the gap
--> e.g. mothers are more likely to encourage their sons than daughters to work hard in math and
science, despite evidence shows that their daughters are as skilled in these domains as their sons
message coming from these explanations, is that, whether due to biology or the accrued effects
of upbringing, people belonging to marginalized groups have less ability
these explanations also share an assumption that the evidence most often the subject of debate
is a valid and unbiased indicator of a person’s true ability
assessment literature has taken great pains to eliminate cultural bias in the selection and
construction of test item
research suggests that race differences persist even after controlling for socioeconomic status
even if we could match students on genetic predispositions, educational background, and
personal values, something in the situation itself that holds marginalized groups back from
reaching their full potential
this something is the existence of social stereotypes
past 15 years, research suggests that the mere existence of stereotypes asserting the intellectual
inferiority of marginalized groups creates a threatening intellectual environment for stigmatized
stereotype threat can ultimately interfere with intellectual functioning and academic
engagement, setting the stage for later differences in educational attainment, career choice, and
job advancement
Stereotype Threat
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Stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) is defined as a situational predicament in which
individuals are at risk, by dint of their actions or behaviors, of confirming negative stereotypes
about their group
sense that one might be judged in terms of a negative stereotype that is “in the air”
--> e.g. African Americans are well aware of the negative stereotypes impugning their
intellectual ability, whenever they are in a situation requiring them to display said ability, they
may fear confirming the stereotype
--> this fear of stereotype confirmation can hijack the cognitive systems required for optimal
performance and result in low test performance
however, African Americans in their sample performed much better on a set of verbal ability
problems when they were described as a simple laboratory task than when they were described
as a diagnostic measure of intelligence.
past 15 years has shown, time and time again, that stereotype threat contributes to low
performance not only among African Americans but also Latinos and the poor in standardized
testing, women in math and science, the elderly in memory and whites in athletics
phenomenon of stereotype threat has proved to be incredibly popular in academic psychology
first empirical article on stereotype threat was published in the Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology in 1995, by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson
--> now widely hailed as a modern classic
--> more than one contributor nominated the Steele and Aronson’s article
with this paper, stereotype threat has become one of the most vigorously explored topics of the
past decade in social psychology
Steele and Aronson article has been cited over 1,200 times, with over 450 separate publications
having “stereotype threat” as keywords
audience for this research is broad and extends beyond academic psychology to other
disciplines and beyond the walls of academia altogether to members of the public
sparked research in other disciplines on issues ranging from race differences in athletic
performance to the best methods for administering diagnostic tests when studying cognitive
deficits due to aging, disease, or drug use
Why has this topic been of so much interest?
one of the reasons an idea takes hold is that it makes people uncomfortable, pointing to a
natural hole in the literature that people did not realize even existed
it points to the power of the situation by suggesting that the mere existence and awareness of
cultural stereotypes creates a fundamentally different experience for those who are stereotyped
to be less competent
we cannot change people’s biology or upbringing, we can change the situations they find
themselves in
after publication of this first paper, researchers started noticing that the theory could be applied
to many different groups and to many different situations
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