Retraining Attitudes and Stereotypes to Affect Motivation and Cognitive Capacity Under Stereotype Threat

Chad E. Forbes*, Toni Schmader

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In a series of experiments, a retraining paradigm was used to test the effects of attitudes and stereotypes on individuals' motivation and cognitive capacity in stereotype-threatening contexts. Women trained to have a more positive math attitude exhibited increased math motivation (Study 1). This effect was not observed for men but was magnified among women when negative stereotypes were either primed subtly (Study 2) or indirectly reinforced (Study 3). Although attitudes had no effect on working memory capacity, women retrained to associate their gender with being good at math exhibited increased working memory capacity (Studies 3 and 4), which in turn mediated increased math performance (Study 4) in a stereotype-threatening context. Results suggest that although positive attitudes can motivate stigmatized individuals to engage with threatening domains, stereotypes need to be retrained to give them the cognitive capacity critical for success. Implications for interventions to reduce stereotype threat are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-754
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume99
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Motivation
  • Stereotype threat
  • Stereotypes
  • Working memory

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