The first study Steele and Aronson conducted was composed of 114 male and female, black and white participants who were undergraduates at Stanford. The participants were split into three groups: the diagnostic condition, where they were told the test was a diagnostic of intellectual ability; the non-diagnostic-only condition, in which participants were told the test was a laboratory tool for studying problem solving; and the non-diagnostic-challenge question, where participants were told it was both a problem-solving tool and a challenge (799). It was hypothesized that black participants would underperform relative to white participants in the diagnostic condition. The independent variable is whether or not they believe the test measures intelligence or is a challenge, while the dependent variable is how the black participants perform better, worse, or just as well as the white participants.
The participants took a thirty-minute exam that was composed of items from the verbal Graduate Record Examination (GRE). All participants were told about the test during the procedure, and were told that it was difficult. However, participants in the diagnostic condition were told that it was concerned with “personal factors involved in performance on problems requiring reading and verbal reading ability” (799). Participants in the non-diagnostic-only condition were told to try hard even ...
... middle of paper ...
...cipants were told that the test was difficult, so to expect to get few items correct, so they already had lower expectations.
However, I wonder if in the second study, only having female participants added another confound. Women also have negative stereotypes associated with them and performance in school. Adding this in, along with the stereotype threat black participants felt, could have influenced the results differently if a mix of male and female participants had been used. I also thought that in some experiments there was a white confederate proctoring the test, this could also add in a confound. It could make white participants feel more comfortable and black participants feel uncomfortable. Other than those things, the four studies discussed in this article did prove that stereotype threat is a reality in minority groups where there are negative stereotypes.
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