An Integrated Process Model of Stereotype Threat Effects on Performance

Toni Schmader*, Michael Johns, Chad Forbes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Research showing that activation of negative stereotypes can impair the performance of stigmatized individuals on a wide variety of tasks has proliferated. However, a complete understanding of the processes underlying these stereotype threat effects on behavior is still lacking. The authors examine stereotype threat in the context of research on stress arousal, vigilance, working memory, and self-regulation to develop a process model of how negative stereotypes impair performance on cognitive and social tasks that require controlled processing, as well as sensorimotor tasks that require automatic processing. The authors argue that stereotype threat disrupts performance via 3 distinct, yet interrelated, mechanisms: (a) a physiological stress response that directly impairs prefrontal processing, (b) a tendency to actively monitor performance, and (c) efforts to suppress negative thoughts and emotions in the service of self-regulation. These mechanisms combine to consume executive resources needed to perform well on cognitive and social tasks. The active monitoring mechanism disrupts performance on sensorimotor tasks directly. Empirical evidence for these assertions is reviewed, and implications for interventions designed to alleviate stereotype threat are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-356
Number of pages21
JournalPsychological Review
Volume115
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • self-regulation
  • stereotype threat
  • stress and coping
  • vigilance
  • working memory

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