Distinguishing Stereotype Threat From Priming Effects: On the Role of the Social Self and Threat-Based Concerns

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Abstract

It has been argued that priming negative stereotypic traits is sufficient to cause stereotype threat. The present research challenges this assumption by highlighting the role of the social self and targets' concerns about confirming a negative group-based stereotype. Specifically, in 3 experiments the authors demonstrate that stereotype threat adversely affects the test performance and threat-based concerns of targets (but not nontargets) because only targets' social self is linked to the negative group stereotype. Trait priming, however, harms the test performance of both targets and nontargets but has no effect on their threat-based concerns because trait priming does not require such a link between the social self and the group stereotype. Moreover, the authors show that merely increasing the accessibility of the social self in nonthreatening situations leads to the underperformance of targets but has no meaningful effect on nontargets' test performance.

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