Stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group. Since its introduction into the academic literature in 1995, stereotype threat has become one of the most widely studied topics in the field of social psychology. First described by social psychologist Claude Steele and his colleagues, stereotype threat has been shown to reduce the performance of individuals who belong to negatively stereotyped groups. If negative stereotypes are present regarding a specific group, they are likely to become anxious about their performance which may hinder their ability to perform at their maximum level. For example, stereotype threat can lower the intellectual performance of African-Americans taking the SAT reasoning test used for college entrance in the United States, due to the stereotype that African-Americans are less intelligent than other groups.
Stereotype threat is a potential contributing factor to long-standing racial and gender gaps in academic performance. However, it may occur whenever an individual's performance might confirm a negative stereotype. This is because stereotype threat is thought to arise from the particular situation rather than from an individual's personality traits or characteristics. Since most people have at least one social identity which is negatively stereotyped, most people are vulnerable to stereotype threat if they encounter a situation in which the stereotype is relevant. Situational factors that increase stereotype threat can include the difficulty of the task, the belief that the task measures their abilities, and the relevance of the negative stereotype to the task. Individuals show higher degrees of stereotype threat on tasks they wish to perform well on and when they identify strongly with the stereotyped group. These effects are also increased when they expect discrimination due to their identification with negatively stereotyped group. Repeated experiences of stereotype threat can lead to a vicious circle of diminished confidence, poor performance and loss of interest in the relevant area of achievement.
Proponents of stereotype threat have been criticized for exaggerating the importance of stereotype threat as an explanation of real-world performance gaps and misrepresenting evidence as more conclusive than it is.
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... The stereotype threat explanation of achievement gaps has attracted criticism ... have wrongly concluded that eliminating stereotype threat could completely eliminate differences in test performance between European-American and ... out that in Steele and Aronson's (1995) experiments where stereotype threat was removed, an achievement gap remained which was very close in size to that routinely reported between African-American and European-Americ ...
... Steele published his first book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, as part of the Issues of Our Time series of books exploring timely issues from the voices of modern ... Whistling Vivaldi focuses on the phenomenon of stereotype threat as it explains the trend of minority underperformance in higher education ... identity contingencies, or those cues in an environment that signal particular stereotypes attached to an aspect of one’s identity, can have a drastic negative effect on a person ...
Famous quotes containing the words threat and/or stereotype:
“Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release.”
—Germaine Greer (b. 1939)
“Once women begin to question the inevitability of their subordination and to reject the conventions formerly associated with it, they can no longer retreat to the safety of those conventions. The woman who rejects the stereotype of feminine weakness and dependence can no longer find much comfort in the cliché that all men are beasts. She has no choice except to believe, on the contrary, that men are human beings, and she finds it hard to forgive them when they act like animals.”
—Christopher Lasch (b. 1932)