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Chapter 18

PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 18: Psychological Intervention, Sympathetic Nervous System, Stereotype Threat

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Michael Inzlicht

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Kurt Levin said that understanding the processes underlying a problem can help us to remedy it
o Also said one of the best ways to understand a phenomenon is by trying to change it
“Identity –Threat” psychological threat arising from possible devalution of one’s group – lead to successful
interventions that closed the achievement gap in schools, pervasive social problem in the US
o Interventions include invoking high performance standards, encouraging optimistic interpretations of
adversity and buttressing student’s sense of self-integrity and belonging
Lead to positive academic trajectories for ethnic minority students in general and female
students in science
Also advanced a theoretical understanding of how identity threat compounds over time through
recursive feedback loops
Research shows how making the jump from lab to field from theory to application can bring to light new
theoretical principles related to psychological processes and interventions itself
Concern that one may be viewed through the lens of a stereotype stereotype threat- can raise stress, deplete
mental resources and undermine performance; erode people’s sense of comfort, belonging and trust
Structural factors are often seen as the source of inequality
Stereotype threat is an example of the general phenomenon of identity threat
Social identity threat the group form of this threat, arises when people realize that they could be devalued
on the basis on their group for any reason; b/c the threat is directed at one’s group, one need not experience it
Like any psychological stressor, identity threat can depress cognitive functioning and emotional well-being,
especially when chronic and experienced in a domain, like school or work, where outcomes have material and
symbolic consequences
Laboratory research suggest several effective steps for reducing stereotype threat
o Exposing students to role models who disconfirm the stereotype, encouraging people to see
performance gaps b/w group due to social rather than genetic factors, and have people call to mind an
alternative, positively stereotyped identity they hold
Although stereotype threat cause dramatic decrements in performance, small changes in the laboratory can
free people of its effects
In the field, unlike the lab, a lot of competing cues could offset the effect of any positive intervention
Figure 18.1 presents a model of the way in which psychological threats, including identity threat, affect
o Threats acts as restraining force that prevents positive forces in both the person and the environment
from asserting their full impact on performance and learning
o E.g. a student may have the ability to excel, but stereotype threat may prevent the expression of that
o Threat may also make negative factors gain a large role in outcomes (e.g. poor grades due to stereotype
threat can make it more likely student to be help back a grade)
Effective social psychological interventions lessen threat, and thereby enable the positive forces to assert their
impact more fully and help constrain forces that could have a negative impact
Popular psychological interventions is that of attributional retraining students are taught to attribute
setbacks to factors unrelated to the stereotype or a lack of belonging;; instead encouraged to attribute them to
common challenges inherent in school ;; dramatically improve performance
o BUT can prove ineffective and even counterproductive when unaccompanied by objective opportunities
for growth (e.g. retraining paired with poor instruction)
Study b/w the feedback interaction b/w teacher and student
o Explored the effects of identity threat in an interpersonal arena with implications for learning, rather
than in the more common test-taking situation
o Strongest predictors of student growth is the quality of feedback from mentors
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