David G Meyers has defined Stereotype threat in his book “Social Psychology” as a disruptive concern that occurs when a person is facing a negative stereotype in life. This stereotype can be evaluated on the basis of the negative stereotype that the person is facing. It is quite unlike the prophecies that are self fulfilling that question one’s reputation regarding one’s stereotype and concept. (Inzlicht, 2006) Inzlicht and others in the year 2006 proved that stereotype threat can be explained by even the prejudice that people can face or feel self conscious about. They explained it through the example of white person living in a black community. They explained how the physical stamina and mental ability is diminished when circumstances that make us self conscious occur. If a person is kept in a situation where other people expect the person to perform poorly and fail. This causes anxiety which may force a person to believe the same that he or she may never succeed. Claude Steele along with his colleagues called this phenomenon as “Stereotype Threat” that is an apprehension that gets self confirmed under a negative stereotype. Claude Steele, Steven Spencer and Diane Quinn in the year 1999 conducted an experiment about a tough math test to women and men who had math background. The people were informed in advance that the test will not be judged on gender differences and any other stereotype. After knowing this the women in the test performed equally in comparison to men. (Adams, 2006)
But when the experiment was repeated with a different set of women who were told that there is a stereotype for “gender difference”, they performed badly in comparison to men. The added apprehension after the tough test questions affected their scores.
Paul Davies along with his colleagues was able to prove that the media is capable of provoking stereotype threat as well. (Davies, 2012)He proved it with an experiment by making both women and men watch as set of commercials which they had to memorize. The commercials contained neutral stimuli for half the participants and the other half were shown commercials with “airheaded” women images. After watching the commercials the participants were given a math test. Not only did the women performed badly in comparison to men in “airheaded” commercial group but also reported a loss of interest in obtaining higher education in math or science. Stereotype threat was also successfully proven by Joshua Aronson and Steele in the year 1995 when they gave verbal tests to whites and black participants. The black participants performed badly when they were subjected to stereotype threat. Steele also reported that students tend to perform badly when they are told prior to the tests that there are chances of them to fail the test. This may also result in self esteem issues and loss of interest on education on a whole in some students. He suggested that it is always better to challenge the students thus helping them to believe in their potential.
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