re: Educational Equity Digest V1 #74

carol dwyer (
Mon, 2 Jun 97 21:50:48 EDT

Stereotype threat is an area of research pioneered by the social psychologist
Claude Steele, who is at Stanford. His research suggests that a person's
awareness of stereotypes held about groups with which they identify may
inhibit their cognitive performance in settings where the stereotype is
relevant. For example, with a group of highly academically oriented African-
American students, performance on answering very difficult reasoning
questions was strongly affected by whether or not the situation evoked the
stereotype of African-Americans being deficient in reasoning skills.
Stereotype threat was evoked by alluding to the test questions as being
measures of "innate ability" and collecting ethnic and gender information
before testing. Stereotype threat was minimized by characterizing the same
questions as expereimental questions believed to be exceptionally fair.

In addition to Steele's work, you might also look for work by Joseph Aronson,
Diane Quinn, and James Jackson (JJ is at the University of Michigan). Hope
this helps.

Carol Dwyer

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