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PSYC12H3 (294)
Chapter 2


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Michael Inzlicht

PSYC12 WINTER 2013 Chapter 2: The Role of Situational Cues in Signaling and Maintaining Stereotype Threat Introduction  Initial aim of stereotype threat was to examine factors that suppress intellectual performance of black students and women in math, science and engineering Stereotype Threat: A Person in Context  Stereotype threat theory now posits that these differences in intellectual performance of marginalized groups might be attributed to features of the situation  When situational cues in a setting make a stereotype salient and relevant to one’s actions, the resulting psychological pressure to disprove the stereotype might depress academic performance The Roles of Cues and Vigilance in Stereotype Threat  Drawing from social identity theory, stereotype threat theory begins with the assumption that each person has multiple social identities (age, gender, race, SES)  Vigilance process is initiated with situational cues make certain parts of one’s identity more salient or important  During the vigilance phase of stereotype threat, people’s attention is direction to other situational cues in the environment to determine whether the identity maybe a liability o Vigilance increases in stereotype is evaluated negatively o Vigilance relaxes when there is little possibility that identity will be source of stigma, devaluation or mistreatment  Murphy, Steele, & Gross, 2007 o Women and Men were shown videos of a upcoming math, Science and engineering summer conference with one video with 3 men to 1 woman in it or a video with equal numbers of both genders represented o Women shown the first video were more vigilant and higher rates of psychological and physiological vigilance compared to women shown the second video  Individual variations in assessing and likelihood and intensity that they engage the vigilance process o Some are particularly sensitive to identity-based rejection or highly conscious of stigma associated with their identity o Some need multiple instances of situational cue vs. just one strong one o Some are more situational threatening o Increased stereotype threat the more you identify with your group Situational Cues in Academic Settings  Diagnositicity of the test and the relevance of a stereotype to people’s test performance reliably produces stereotype threat among groups whose intellectual abilities are negatively stereotyped o Diagnostic cue makes it clear that one’s intelligence and competence is one the line and will be evaluated  Research has shown that linking one’s identity to one’s performance or future potential subtly suggest diagnosticity and relevance o Indicating race or gender on demographic questions increases the salience of stereotypes related to those gender group memberships and reduces performance in the lab and the world o Increased threat when potential of evolution is high, performance feedback or saying that the test will reveal their strengths and weaknesses also amplifies threat o When a test is very important, no additional cues necessary such as the SATs, GREs o Number of whites, men or majority members in a room when conducting a test impacts performance of minorities and marginalized groups o In addition, the person administering the test also has an impact PSYC12 WINTER 2013 o Stereotypic ads of women compared to neutral ads resulted in higher activation of gender stereotypes and reduced women’s inclinations to occupy leadership roles, performed less well on non-diagnostic math tests and indicted less interest in pursuing quantitative domains as career o Other people’s sexist behaviors were enough to disrupt the performance of even highly skilled female engineering majors on an engineering test  Subtle situational cues found in both media and the in the behaviors of others can launch the stereotype threat process and interfere with the performance, aspirations and cognitive processes of stigmatized individuals Situational Cues and Social Identity Concerns  Research on the effects of social identity threat suggest that situational cues become meaningful to people to the extent that they imply some contingency between the cue and one’s outcomes in a setting  Thus, when situational cues direct or restrict one’s behavior along lines of social identity, those cues are likely to be perceived as meaningful (cafeteria student segregation along social identities)  Situational Cues o Stereotype Threat Concerns - one’s behavior will be interpreted through the lens of negative group stereotypes – one might inadvertently confirm stereotype about one’s group to one self or to others (Examples: diagnostically and stereotype relevance)
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