Research Question – What
is the relationship between teaching women about negative stereotype threat and
women’s performance in stereotype-relevant domains?
Hypotheses – Women’s
knowledge of stereotype threat improves performance in threatening testing
situation by providing a means of externalizing arousal.
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Theoretical framework – Past
studies have shown that underperformance of women and minorities on academic
testing is caused by negative stereotype threat. At the same time, past
research has also suggested some ways to encounter negative effect of
stereotype threat on stigmatized individuals. Exposing them to a positive role
model, testing in same-gender situations and teaching them to view intelligence
as a workable trait in threatening testing condition are solutions suggested by
previous research. Not only that, researchers also discovered that situational
explanation given for arousal may also be helpful to reduce stereotype threat.
The reason behind this was the stigmatized individuals were provided with an
external attribution for their anxiety during a stereotype-related task rather
than their own incapability in stereotype-relevant domains.
– Initially, 144 introductory statistics students volunteered to join the
research in order to get extra credit. However, previous study showed that only
Whites will exhibit sex differences in math performance, so this led to the
exclusion of non-white participants and leave the study with only 117
participants eventually. They were then randomly group to a 2 (gender) × 3
(test description) factorial design. Problem solving test, math test and
teaching intervention were used as description for the test. After that, the
session was carried out either by a male or female researcher and an
audio-recorded description of the study by a male researcher was played in the
three conditions. However, different instructions were given to the
participants in the three conditions. In the problem solving situation, they
were told that it was going to be a problem solving exercise regarding a study
general aspects of cognitive processes. While in the math test and teaching
intervention conditions, they were given the same instructions that it was
going to be a standardized test to measure gender differences in mathematics
performance and they were asked to write down their gender on the test. The
only difference was in the teaching intervention condition, stereotype threat
was described to the participants and women’s participants were told by the
researcher that the nervous feeling they feel while doing the test is due to
the negative stereotype threat and not because of their incapability to strive
in the test. After they had completed the test, they were asked to complete two
manipulation check using 7-point scales. They rated their viewpoint of the extent
to which male researcher thought stereotype threat could negatively affect
their test performance and also whether the researcher expect women to perform
better than male or vice versa. Lastly, they were asked to rate whether
stereotype threat contributed to their nervousness while sitting for the test
before they were debriefed and thanked.