Predicting Performance Outcomes From the Manner of Stereotype Activation and Stereotype Content


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Abstract

The relationship between activation of positive stereotypes and academic performance is not clear. Some studies have found that the activating of positive stereotypes boosts performance, whereas other studies have found that it hurts performance. We introduce a model to reconcile the conflicting findings. We aggregate and organize the literature based upon 2 factors: (a) the manner in which the stereotypes are activated (i.e., explicit vs. implicit activation), and (b) the valence of the stereotype (i.e., negative vs. neutral vs. positive). We then propose a model upon which we can predict the performance outcome based on these 2 factors and test this model with 2 studies. Study 1 supports the model’s first prediction that implicitly activating of a positive stereotype leads to better performance outcomes than explicitly activating any stereotype, regardless of valence. Study 2 focuses only on explicit stereotype activation. The results of Study 2 support the model’s second prediction that explicitly activating a negative stereotype leads to poorer performance than explicitly activating a positive or irrelevant stereotype.

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