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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Stereotype Threat (Book)

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Michael Inzlicht

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PSYC12 Inzlicht & Schmader Chapter 3 – An Integration of Processes that Underlie Stereotype Threat 1. Stereotype Threat is What Stereotype Threat Does 1.1. This section focuses on the psychological effect of stereotype threat 1.2. Stereotype type threat characterizes a concern that one might inadvertently confirm an unwanted belief about one’s group. As a result, those who experience stereotype threat have a motivation to avoid enacting any behaviour that might be seen as stereotypical 1.2.1.E.g., women in math and sciences report dressing in less feminine ways 1.2.2.Automatic Activation of Threat Awareness of stereotype does not have to be consciously activated to affect someone’s performance Many of the processes instigated by being the target of negative stereotypes happen automatically, outside of conscious awareness Situations that cue stereotype threat activate a schema of that stereotype Activating the stereotype might lead to stereotype threat only to the extent that it cues an imbalance between three relevant propositions: I am a member of group G, group G is expected to do poorly at domain D, but I do well at domain D It is the logical inconsistency among these propositions that actually constitute stereotype Situations of stereotype threat raise competing possible outcomes (e.g., I could do poorly as the stereotype predicts, or I could do well, consistent with my goals and past experience) One’s attention becomes focused on cues that might provide evidence for or against either alternatives. One’s attention is likely to be oversensitive in its detection of any sign that could indicate that unwanted outcome. Cues that might be otherwise innocuous, such as making a simple arithmetic error while solving math problems can be overinterpreted as a sign of failure E.g., when measuring error related negativity (ERN), researchers found that black kids that do well academically show greater vigilance than other black kids, when the test is assumed to measure their intelligence 1.2.3. In sum: situations of stereotype threat brings to mind thoughts about one’s relation to a valued domain that conflict with one’s relation to a valued group that is stereotyped to do poorly (blacks and intelligence). This cognitive inconsistency triggers certain automatic effects, including a sense of uncertainty and increased vigilance toward cues that might help one to detect, with the goal of avoiding, behaviour that could confirm the stereotype 1.2.4.Explicit Efforts to Manage the Situation and One’s Response The automatic processes that negative self-relevant stereotypes set in motion are accompanied by a number of controlled processes that can affect performance – often for the worse but sometimes for the better Increased Effort at the Task When faced with stereotype threat, people tend to have increased drive to perform well, which increase activation of the dominant response to the task. The problem is that one’s dominant response is not always the best response to achieve success Performance will be enhanced if the task is one that relies on a cognitively simple or well-learned thought process or behaviour. If the task is more cognitively challenging, performance may be inhibited Research shows that when women are told that a certain activity determines their ability to excel at math, they tend to be more aroused and more motivated to do well. If they PSYC12 Inzlicht & Schmader make an error on the activity, the motivation to disconfirm the stereotype can cue more controlled attempts to correct one’s mistake Decreased Working Memory The greatest paradox of stereotype threat is that it can simultaneously increase motivation while also decreasing performance, particularly when the task requires mental manipulation of complex information People are required to use their working memory to solve complex problems, however stereotype threat taxes working memory capacity, and thus performance will suffer if one’s working memory resources are temporarily depleted or used for another purpose Research confirmed the idea that individuals under threat are mentally overloaded and cognitively depleted B
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