Cognitive Daily

New York Times on Stereotype Threat

The New York Times has an article on the most recent stereotype threat research: Women perform worse on math tests when they are first told that men are better at math. When they are told that men and women are equal, they perform equally. Unfortunately, the report in Science on which the article is based is locked behind a paywall. Fortunately, you can find some of Heine’s research materials, including the essays used to remind women of stereotype threat here.

Also, Cognitive Daily has reported on similar research:

The first study has essentially the same conclusion as the Dar-Nimrod and Heine research cited in the NYT article. What Dar-Nimrod and Heine add to this research is a study design that incorporates reminders of stereotypes into the study itself: Instead of being “instructed” about stereotype differences, women are told they are taking a “reading comprehension” test followed by a math test. In the reading comprehension section, women read essays either reminding them of stereotypes about women’s math performance or arguing that men and women are equal. So even when not overtly reminded about stereotypes by the test administrator, an effect of stereotypes is still present.

(Thanks to CogDaily reader Hypercycloid for the link)


  1. #1 Sandeep Gautam
    October 27, 2006

    Some interesting observations of the study are the differences in performance observed when genetic explanation and stereotypes were invoked vis-a-vis when experiential explanations were provided. These cannot be explained by stereotype threat theory alone and need to take into account the differences in performance caused by different underlying conceptualization of Math ability.

    I have attempted such an interpretation and would love comments on the same.

  2. #2 josh g.
    October 27, 2006

    Is it just me, or is the headline given to the NYT article almost a stereotype threat of its own?

    “Experts: Some Women Perform Well in Math”.

    No kidding! Now how about coming up with a headline that doesn’t sound surprised that women can do math well, and that actually expresses something useful about the article?

  3. #3 Gregory
    October 27, 2006

    From a sociological perspective, women could be showing a will to conform to gender roles, if a passion for math is indicated as unfeminine.

    I’d be interested in stereotype threat in young males, with general academic performance. It’s a well known stereotype that “nerds” are socially disadvantaged(no dates), I wonder what exposure to an essay telling(lying?) of intellectuals being overtly successful in desirable social outcomes, vs. an essay on the common socially dysfunctional nerd stereotype, would do to a young male’s test scores, maybe with material tested being from several disciplines even. This could reveal very profound things for issues of national competitiveness, and legitimize a sanctioned response to anti-intellectualism in the national interest.

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