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Chapter 18

Stereotype Threat-Chap18.docx

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Michael Inzlicht

CHAPTER 18 – AN IDENTITY THREAT PERSPECTIVE ON INTERVENTION  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 personally  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 MOVING FROM LAB TO FIELD: CONCEPTUALIZING IDENTITY THREAT IN REAL-WORLD SETTINGS  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 performance 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 ability 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 o Follow-up study, college science majors received critical feedback on a research presentation from someone they were led to believe was a male science professor  Compared with male students, female students incorporated relatively fewer of the suggestions for improvement into a revision for their research presentation  Critical feedback – a structural factor that should facilitate learning and motivation – had a positive effect only for the non-threatened group  Even though our methodology ensured that nonstereotyped and stereotyped students received virtually identical feedback, the two groups perceived it differently  In another experimental condition, tested a theory-driven intervention designed to deflect the threatening characterization of the stereotype o Students received the same critical feedback but now accompanied with the professor’s assertion that he had high standards and his personal assurance that the student in question had the potential to reach those standards o We thought, that students would see it less as a sign that the teacher had stereotyped them and a more a sign that he believed in their ability o Indeed African American students receiving the feedback in this manner saw little if any bias and were not motivated as their white peers o Likewise, female science majors receiving this feedback incorporated significantly more of the feedback’s suggestions for improvement  These students reinforced the lesson that relatively small interventions, when attuned to important psychological process, can have large effects APPROACH TO REAL-WORLD INTERVENTION  Intervention approach rests on three ideas – levers, recursion and the dynamic nature of social systems  Psychological levers  points in a complex system where targeted intervention can produce non-intuitively large and long term effects o Used in many successful interventions concerns core psychological motives for belonging, self-integrity and competence o When they combat threats to such motives, even brief interventions can have large effects o Social-psychological interventions accomplish what exceptional teachers and mentors do in more impactful ways in the real world  convey to students the message that they belong, have self-integrity and can achieve a higher standard o When teachers have optimistic expectations for their students – appears to especially benefit the achievement of minority students  Recognition of recursive cycles  processes can feed off their own consequences; Stereotype threat might lower performance, lower performance in turn could increase stereotype threat, lowering performance and in a repeating cycle o Many interventions interrupt the downward spiral characteristics of such self-exacerbating cycles  Approach concerns the recognition of the dynamic or interactive nature of forces in a social system  an intervention effect might act as the first spark in a chain reaction, the intervention effect could be carried forward and even amplified involving many social and psychological processes  Students who do better early on many come to feel efficacious In school, believe in the malleable nature of intelligence, and trust their teachers, all of which can contribute to better performance  Early differences, even when slight, can snowball into large effects over time, as feedback loops both compound initial differences in performance and broaden their consequences o E.g. small early advantages in young athlete’s size and coordination – have sizable effects on their prospects of becoming professional athletes  child who displays more early competence is likely to be perceived as more able, be given more opportunities to excel and receive more mentoring  Small differences at an early age become magnified over time, making it
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