The Effects of Stereotype Threat and Self-Esteem on Task Performance

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There have been many studies on stereotype threat and self-esteem and their negative effects on task performance. These studies have focused primarily on minorities such as women, blacks, Latinos and Asians and have found that stereotype threat and self-esteem have influenced negatively in task performance. Steele (1997) investigated how self-esteem and stereotype threat affects task performance and has found that most of task failures have to do with the individual social environment. For instance, a study was conducted in which black students completed a difficult task with either a black or white experimenter. The task was described as intelligent test (Steele & Aronson, 1995). When the experimenter was white, the student performed more poorly than white students, but only when the task was described as a test of intelligence. However, when the experimenter was black, the performance of the black students in the task improved. This study was the first to show that bringing racial stereotypes in a task performance will reduce positive outcomes in the individual (Katz, Robert & Robinson, 1965).

There are also studies that have been done on self-esteem and the effect that it has in overall performance (Brockner, 1986). Researchers have demonstrated that task performance of low self-esteem individuals suffers in the presence of self-focusing stimuli. An example of this finding is a study, in which 90 undergraduates high and low in chronic self-esteem received false success or failure feedback of self-focus stimuli (Steele, Spencer, & Lynch, 1993). Whereas high self-esteem performed equally well following success or failure, low self esteem participants in the success condition performed significantly better than low self-esteem pa...

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...s to make students feel bad and unworthy. People with lower levels of self-esteem attempt to deal with their flaws to be accepted (Brown & Dutton, 1995)


Participants with high self esteem and no exposure to stereotype threat will perform the highest on task performance. Several studies in the past have shown that people have a general inclination to self-enhance, and this inclination is especially strong for those with greater levels of self-esteem (Tesser, 1988). For instance, people with higher self-esteem (as opposed to those with lower self-esteem) are more likely to present themselves in an overly positive achievement (Baumeister, 2003) and to perceive positive evaluators as more accurate than negative evaluators (Bosson & Swann, 1999). Participants with low self esteem and exposure to stereotype threat will perform the lowest on task performance.
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