Stereotype threat occurs when expectations of a group’s typical behavior are activated among group members, resulting in reduced performance.
When Stanford’s Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson now of NYU, helped women and African Americans participants resist these stereotypes, participants’ performance improved more than when the researchers activated a positive shared identity.
Stereotypes can be invoked by “implicit primes” even when people explicitly disavowed stereotypes, found University of Washington’s Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, then at Yale.
However, when volunteers focused on tasks, including judgment challenges about members of a stereotyped group, participants were less likely to render discriminatory decisions.
Both women and men resisted stereotypic behavior in negotiations when stereotypes were elicited with explicit primes, reported University of California, Berkeley’s Laura Kray, Leigh Thompson of Northwestern and Columbia’s Adam Galinsky.
In this case, activating a shared identity helped participants resist gender stereotypic expectations in negotiation performance.
People can separate themselves from prevailing stereotypes with contrast primes, by providing examples that contradict a stereotype, noted Lehigh University’s Gordon B. Moskowitz and Ian W. Skurnik of University of Utah.
Men from majority groups also can experience stereotype threat, explained University of Oklahoma’s Ryan P. Brown and Robert A. Josephs of University of Texas.
Male participants performed less effectively after a positive male stereotype was activated as a comparison criterion.
Men’s performance was also undermined by “pressure to live up to the standard.”
People can manage stereotype threat by explicitly mentioning the stereotype to activate resistance.
In addition, people can focus on a shared identity that transcends the stigmatized group identity, and identifying examples that contradict the stereotype.
- How do you manage stereotype threat for yourself and others?
- How effective have you found activating stereotype reactance?
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