Examining Stereotype Threat: Stereotypic Self-Association and Women's Math Performance
Two experiments investigated the role of stereotypic self-associations on the effect of stereotype threat on women's math performance. In Experiment 1, male and female undergraduates completed a mathematics exam under a stereotype threat condition or a no threat condition. Participants also completed an explicit measure of their stereotypic self-associations. Female participants answered significantly fewer items correctly on the exam than males in the threat condition, but scores were not significantly different from males in the no threat condition. The detrimental effect of stereotype threat was stronger for women who reported high explicit stereotypic self-associations. In Experiment 2, female undergraduates completed the same math exam under threat and no threat conditions and their stereotypic self-associations were measured implicitly through a series of Implicit Association Tests (IAT). The IATs measured implicit associations between the self and being female; the self and the concept of math; and being female and the concept of math. Women scored significantly higher in the no threat condition than in the stereotype threat condition. The detrimental effect of stereotype threat was stronger for a different group of women than in Experiment 1: those who showed low implicit self-stereotyping. The scores of women high in implicit self-stereotyping were not significantly different in either condition. These results confirm the importance of the stereotype threat effect on women's math performance and suggest that the relationship between explicit and implicit self-stereotypic associations is more complex than one would predict. This observation deserves further study in order to determine a more definitive solution to the effects of stereotype threat.
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