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Chapter 3

Stereotype Threat Chapter 3.docx

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Michael Inzlicht

STEREOTYPE THREAT CHAPTER 3 Integration of Processes that underlie Stereotype threat  Steele/Aronson—performance can easily be manipulated by merely how a task is described or who is present in the room o But why o Anxiety and negative stereotype activation are overly simplistic explanations for stereotype threat o Not just that individuals feel anxious when they are stereotyped and that is why they under-perform o Not just that stereotypes are activated and automatically induce stereotype- consistent behaviour o The Phenomenon is more complex  Involves both cognitive and affective components—both automatic and controlled processes Stereotype Threat is what Stereotype threat does  Stereotype threat characterizes a concern that one might inadvertently confirm an unwanted belief about one’s group o As a result those who experience stereotype threat have a motivation to avoid enacting any behaviour that might be seen as stereotypical o Focus on preventing any form of stereotype confirmation does not simply affect behavioural preferences, it also prompts more subtle changes in how one processes information at both an automatic and a controlled level Automatic Activation Threat  Feature of stereotype threat—ability to affect performance without a person’s conscious awareness of the stereotype having been activated  Many processes instigated by being the target of negative stereotype happen automatically  Situations that cue stereotype threat activate a schema of that stereotype, o Black collegestudents expecting an intelligencetest—morelikely than peersto complete word fragments like R_C_ with RACE instead of RICE, ROCK, RICH  Activating stereotype might lead to stereotype threat only to the extent that it cues an imbalance between 3 relevant propositions o “I am a member of Group G” o “Group G is expected to do poorly at Domain D” o “But I do well at Domain D”  It’s the logical inconsistency among the 3 propositions that is what actually constitutes stereotype threat  Implies that stereotype threat will be experienced most strongly in those situations and for those individuals most likely to activate all o This cognitive imbalance—elicits other automatic but downstream consequences  Humans have fundamental motive for cognitive consistency  Immediate reaction is uncertainty and self-doubt to imbalances  Activate a more negative association between oneself and the domain  Activating doubt—can color the interpretation of one’s experience in ways that disrupt cognitive abilities  Uncertainty as a phenomenological driver of additional processing aimed at resolving the inconsistency of one’s thought processes  Situations of stereotype threat raise competing possible outcomes o “I could do as poorly as the stereotype predicts”—OR “I could do well, consistent with my goals and past experience”  Attention becomes focused on cues that might provide evidence for or against either alternative  Attention is over sensitive in detection of any sign that could indicate that unwanted outcome—a cue that might normally be innocuous (anxiety during an interview/ making simple math errors on a test)—interpreted as signs of ultimate failure o Brain activity study  Assessed in minority students—thought intelligence was being assessed using neurological measurements  Most interested in Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ARR)—by analyzing error related negativity (ERN)  Individuals show larger ERNs to errors when they are particularly motivated to avoid mistakes or when they are being evaluated  Minority college students who were invested in doing well academically—exhibited greater vigilance (larger ERNs) to errors they made during simple response time task when they believed their intelligence was being assessed compared to when the task was described neutrally  People also become more vigilant to signs of threat in their environment—as well as to their own internal experience o Women expecting to take a difficult math test (opposed to “neutrally described problem solving task”)—exhibited an automatic attentional shift toward anxiety- related words  Situations of stereotype threat bring 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 o Cognitive inconsistency triggers certain automatic effects  Sense of uncertainty  Increased vigilance to cues that might help one to detect (with the goal of avoiding) behaviour that could confirm the stereotype. Explicit Efforts to Manage the Situation and One’s Response  Summary so far: Stereotype threat can affect our thoughts and behaviour through automatic processes that run largely outside conscious awareness o NOT THE ENTIRE STORY o Automatic processes that negative self-relevant stereotypes set in motion— accompanied by a number of controlled processes that can in turn affect performance Increased Effort at the Task  Stereotype threat—increases one’s motivation to disconfirm the stereotype  Increased effort is not purely a controlled or explicit process  When threatened—Increased drive to perform well increases activation of the preponent or dominant response to the task  Stereotype threat increases arousal in a way that can facilitate a dominant response o Women faster to write name repeatedly when they were expected oected did not receive threatening instructions about upcoming test  Stereotype threat also increases one’s efforts to counter prepotent response when its identified as an error—efforts are likely to be more explicit and controlled in nature o Antisaccade task—people try to inhibit automatic tendency to look toward a stimulus cue o Women told the task was related math ability—more likely to saccade toward distracting cue in trials when they had to inhibit o But women under threat—faster at correcting saccade, reversing gaze direction in time to identify the target on the oppo
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