Michael Tagler, Ph.D.
Advisor: Dr. Leon Rappoport
Stereotype threat: prevalence and individual differences
Stereotype threat theory suggests that negative stereotypes regarding group differences in performance can impair the performance of members of stigmatized groups. In support of this theory, considerable experimental evidence of stereotype threat-induced underperformance has been presented. However, this study investigates two unresolved issues concerning stereotype threat research. First, the question of how prevalent and significant the experience of stereotype threat is for members of negatively stereotyped groups. Second, is the question of how individual differences in personality may influence performance in the face of stereotype threat. A two part study was conducted to investigate these issues in the context of stereotypes regarding women's mathematical ability. First, male and female participants ( N = 622) completed self-report scales designed to measure their perceptions of stereotype threat, gender identification, domain identification, self consciousness, and dispositional affect. Here it was found that females reported higher levels of stereotype threat than male participants, but differences were small. Second, participants ( N = 198) were given a difficult math exam under either a gender relevant (designed to induce stereotype threat) or gender irrelevant condition. Stereotype threat was found to have a small but significant negative impact on female performance. Furthermore, gender identification and self-consciousness were found to significantly moderate this effect. Taken together, these findings indicate that stereotype threat is not experienced by all members of stigmatized groups and that there are important personality differences that contribute to this variability.
Ph.D., Psychology, Kansas State University, 2003