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Chapter 2

PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Stereotype Threat, Cognitive Dissonance

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Michael Inzlicht

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Initial aim of stereotype threat research was to examine those factors suppressing the
intellectual performance of black students and women in math
o Both underperforming in class room relative to intellectual abilities
o What’s causing this?
Stereotype Threat: A person in Context
When situational cues in a setting make a stereotype salient and relevant to one’s actions
o resulting psychological pressure to disprove the stereotype might depress
academic performance
since 1995400 studies have documented stereotype threat, investigating those factors
that trigger and temper its effects
The Roles of Cues and Vigilance in Stereotype Threat
Stereotype threat theory begins with the assumption that each person has multiple social
identities (gender, age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.)
When situation cues signal an identity’s value or importance in setting—particular group
membership becomes salientvigilance process initiated
o In vigilance phase—people’s attention is directed to other situational cues in the
environment to determine whether identity may be a liability
Two appraisals are possible
o If cues in environment disconfirm possibility that one’s social identity will be a
source of stigmavigilance relaxes
o If situational cues confirm the possibility that one’s social identity is likely to be
negatively evaluatedvigilance increases
Study Math, Science and Engineering Environment
o Male and Female MSE majors watched a video advertising a prestigious MSE
summer conferencedepicts either 3 men to one woman or balanced
o Measured subjects psychological and physiological vigilance as they watched
o Women majors who watched 3:1 videoreport less belonging to MSE, had little
desire to attend the conference
More highly vigilant than women who watched gender balanced video and
Remembered more details of video
Faster heart beats/sweatier palms
Focused attention on their broader social environmentremembered more
MSE-related cues planted in the lab roomMSE textbooks
Individuals differ with regard to likelihood and intensity that they engage vigilance
Some people constantly scan every environment for cues that signal identity’s value
o May be sensitive to identity-based rejection
o Highly conscious of the stigma associated with their identity
For othersonly vigilant when cues disambiguate the likelihood of identity-based
People have different thresholdsby which appraisals are made
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