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Chapter 2

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Dwayne Pare

CHAPTER 2: Role of situational cues in signaling and maintaining stereotype threat Threatening situational cues engender a vigilance process whereby stigmatized individuals direct attention toward additional cues to determine the value and meaning of their social identity in a setting  Explicit and subtle situational cues elicit stereotype threat among racial minorities in academic settings, women in science technology, engineering and math domains  Meaning people assign to those cues affects whether they will become vulternable to or protected against stereotype threat  Situational cues are meaningful to the extent that they elicit identity related concerns such as concerns for belonging institutional fairness or of being marginalized in a setting  Identity-safe cues in a stting can eliminate stereotype threat by reducing identity thrat concerns and signaling to stigmatized individuals that their social identity will not be a litability to their outcomes  Understanding how situational cues trigger and diffuse identity threat offers hope for changing the dynamics of social identity threat and points toward a new wave of identity threat research – investigating interactive and contectual nature of identity-safe cues to create environments that are welcoming and comfortable for all groups  Black and white student is treated the same as girl and boy in a math class, could they still experience classroom differently to affect their performance and achievement there?  At every level of preparation matched with their white and male peers standardized tests consistently over-predicted their achievement in school  b/c these data equated racial minorities and women’s SAT scores with those of their nonstereotypes counterparts, academic ability and prepation seemed an unlikely explanation for this achievement gap  is contending with engative stereotypes themselves restricting academic performance of these groups? STEREOTYPE THREAT: A PERSON IN CONTEXT  differences in academic performance b/w groups may be attributed to features of the situation says stereotype threat theory  when situational cues in a setting make a stereotype salient and relevant to one’s actions, resulting psychological pressure to disprove the stereotype might depress academic performance  meanings people derive from situational cues ultimately affects whether they become vulnerable to or protected against stereotype threat  situational cues can create an atmosphere of identity safety for sitmatized groups alleviating stereotype threat effects ROLE OF CUES AND VIGILANCE IN STEREOTYPE THREAT  Social identity theory- stereotype threat theory begins with assumption that each person has multiple social identities (gender, age, race/ethnicity, SES)  When situational cues signal an identity’s value or importance in a setting, that particular group membership becomes more salient than the others and a vigilance process is initiated  During vigilance phase of stereotype threat, people’s attention is directed to other situational cues in the environment to determine whether the identity may be a liability  If cues in social environment disconfirm possibility that one’s social identity will likely be a source of stigma, devaluation or mistreatment, vigilance relaxes (sleepless) o Performance and function are contingent only on the task at hand  If situational cues confirm possibility that one’s social identity is likely to be negatively evaluated, vigilance increases o Even seemingly innocuous situational cues like an instructor’s race or sex can become imbued with meaning as people try to discern the probability of being devalued in a setting Experiment: how attention is drawn to innocuous cues in math, science and engineering evnrionment in which long standing gender stereotypes abound  Male and female MSE majors watched a ideo advertising a prestigious MSE summer conference that depicted a gender ratio of either 3 men to 1 woman (ratio typical in American MSE settings) or a balanced gender ratio of 1:1  Measured P’s psychological and physiological vigilance as they watched the video Results:  Women majors who watched the 3:1 video reported less belonging in MSE and expressed little desire to attend the conference, highly vigilant compared to women who watched the gender balanced video and men who watched either video  Remembered more details of the conference video such as past conference activities  Faster heartbeats and sweatier palms – indications of physiological vigilance and stress  Cue focused women’s attention on their broader social environment  Women who watched gender unbalanced video remembered more MSE related cues planted in lab room including MSE textbooks and science and nature journals nd posters of einstien, periodic table than other groups  Situational cue of numeric representation caused MSE womwn to engage a vigilance process o Deploying attention to situational cues within video and their local environment to determine value of their gender identity in MSE conference setting  Individuals differ – some constantly scan almost every environment for situational cues that signal their identity’s value o May be particularly sensitive to identity based rejection or highly conscious of stigma associated with their identity  Others – vigilance process may begin only when cues disambiguate likelihood of identity based judgments  People have diff thresholds by which firm appraisals of identity threat are made  Some individuals require just one strong situational cue such as a coworker’s sexist comment whereas others might experience threat only when multiple cues converge  Certain situational cues will be less threatening for people not personally invested in particular domains (women who avoid MSE)  The degree to which one identifies with a domain moderates stereotype threat effects  People who are more identified with their stereotyped social group are also more vulnerable to stereotype threat effects  Experiences with situational cues and stereotype threat processes that result can influence people’s desire to identify with and persist in professional and academic domains  Vigilance processes may shape people’s experiences in the future steering their attention toward similar situational cues in new environments  Psychological and behavioral experiences of stereotype threat are grounded in an environment’s situatiaonal cues SITUATIONAL CUES IN ACADEMIC SETTINGS  2 cues, diagnosticity of a test and relevance of a stereotype to people’s test performance reliably produce stereotype threat among groups whose intellectual abilityes are negatively stereotyped  Diagnosticity signals to people that the test they are about to take is a valid predictor fo their intellectual abilities o One’s intelligence and competence is on the line and will be evaluated  Studies that evoke stereotype relevance either explicitly refer to group stereotypes or more subtly suggest that stereotypes may be relvant to one’s performance  Studies examining stereotype threat among women in math, experimenters inform participants that men are known to outperform women on the impending math test or that women’s performances will be compared to men’s to determine whether the gender stereotype is true  Experiment’s purpose is to examine gender differences in mathematical performance or to dt=etermine whether gender differences actually exist  Some studies Ps are told that gender differences have been documented on upcoming math test leaving people to infer direction of gender difference  Linking one’s identity to one’s performance or future potentional subtly suggests diagnosticity and relevance  Indicating one’s race or gender on demographic questions increases salience of stereotypes related to those group memberships and reduces performance both in lab and world  Highlighting potential for evaluation intensifies stereotype threat  Telling Ps that they will receive performance feedback following the test or that test will reveal their strengths and weaknesses amplifies threat  Stereotypes are made relevant by emphasizing a test’s importance explicitly linking t to other presumably more important abilities such as one’s general intelligence or future academic potential  Stereotype relevance doesn’t require heavy handed experimental manipulations  When a test is notoriously important such as when it predicts future academic opportunities or scholarships no additional cue is necessary to induce stereotype threat  When stereotypes students hoping to attend graduate school take the GRE or when college bound women take AP Math Exam both show stereotype threat underperformance  All that appears necessary for stereotyhpe threat effects to emergy in high stakes testing situations of personal importance is that individuals are both aware of the stereotype and aware that the performance task is diagnostic of the ability in question  Organization of a setting moderates stereotype threat effects  The numbr of whites or men in a setting can affect the performance of racial minorities and women  Experiment manipulated cue of numeric representation, women took a math test in a room with 2 other test takes either with 2 other females, one male and one female or with two males o Effect of number was clear  With each mad added to the setting , women showed a linear decrease in math performance whereas men remained unaffected by the cue  Mere presence of men or whites administering math and intellectual ability tests caused underperformance among women and racial minorities  Physical arrangements and mere presence of certain groups within a setting are subtle but powerful, situational cues affecting sitmatized individuals  All people have social identities that given a particular collection of cues trigger stereotype threat  Latinos negatively stereotypes as intellectually inferior can underperform on math and spatial ability tasks  Low income students may underperform when their SES background is highlighted  White men’s math performance can become vulnerable when compared to that of asian Americans  People from all social groups including those who don’t belong to traditionally stereotyped groups can be affected by identity threatening cues and experience the cognitive, behaviorsal and emotional disruptions of stereotype threat Experiment: how insidious commonplace cues can be in effects of media  Showed women and men 3 diff sets of prime time TV commercials  One set included neutral commercials adversited products unrelated to gender – cellphone, insurance company  Another set featured gender stereotypic depictions of women – woman fantasizing about being chosen homecoming queen  Another set featured counterstereotypic depictions of women – attractive woman impresses a man with her car knowledge Results:  Relative to neutral ads, stereotypic ads activated gender stereotypes and reduced women’s inclidnations to occupy leadership rols  Stereotypic commercials depressed women’s subsequent performance on a nondiagnostic math test whereas men and women who watched counterstereotypic commercials performed equally well  Women exposed to stereotypic commercials indicated less interest in pursuing quantitative domains as a career preferring instead to apply their skills to verbal domain in which potential for gender stereotyping is reduced  Studies demonstrate far-reaching effects of subtle situational cues affecting outcomes as varied as performance, task choice and career aspirations  Other people’s behavior can also trigger stereotype threat  Hypothesized that women might use men’s body language as an indicator of potention for negative treatment and stereotyping  Male confederates either did or didn’t display certain behavioral cues to their female partners scanner their female conversation partner’s body showing confident dominant facial expressions and displaying open body postures – shoulders and back, knees far apart o Confederate’s sexist behaviors were enough to disrupt performance of even highly skilled female engineering majors on an engineering test o Women who interacted with sexist confederate cognitively suppressed concerns about gender stereotypes in anticipation of their test performance – actively trying to suppress negative stereotypes before taking the test  Cognitive suppression ironically led to their subpar performance as it depleted cognitive resources required to excel on the test  Subtle situational cues found in media and behaviors of others can launch stereotype threat process and interfere with performance, aspirations and cognitive processes of stigmatized individuals SITUATIONAL CUES AND SOCIAL IDENTITY CONCERNS  Situational cues become meaningful to people to the extent that they imply some contingency between the cue and one’s outcomes in a setting  Situational cue of student segregation in a highschool cafeteria o When a freshman walks into the café and sees its organization by social identities – jocks are sitting together as are nerds, artsy kids, AAs, Asians, latinos, this cue presents a contingency for his behavior o Suddenly, he’s aware of his group membership more than he was before and feels pressure to sit with the group that he most identifies with so that he can feel
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