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Stereotype Threat


Subject Social Psychology and Personality » Stereotyping
Sociology » Social Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Stereotype threat describes a situation when members of a stigmatized group perform poorly on a task because they are concerned about confirming others’ negative stereotypes about them. A central characteristic of stereotype-threat situations is that an individual believes that their own performance is not only reflective of their personal qualities, but that it will be viewed as indicative of the qualities of their entire group. Seeing one's own performance in this way can produce performance pressure, distraction, anxiety, and negative thinking – all leading to subsequent underperformance. The concept of stereotype threat was first proposed by social psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson (1995) as a means of understanding why African American students tend to perform less well in educational institutions than their white counterparts, even when there is no difference in objectively assessed levels of intellectual ability (e.g., SAT scores). The authors proposed that in many educational environments African American students are required to perform academically in situations where they assume that whites (e.g., teachers, fellow students) have low expectations of them. Though minority students typically reject the unfavorable intellectual stereotypes about their group, they still find themselves in a situation in which their own failure may validate others’ low expectations ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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