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Linking Stereotype Threat and Anxiety

Title: Linking Stereotype Threat and Anxiety


Summary: (abstract)

Claude Steele’s stereotype threat hypothesis has attracted significant attention in recent years. This study tested one of the main tenets of his theory—that stereotype threat serves to increase individual anxiety levels, thus hurting performance—using real‐time measures of physiological arousal. Subjects were randomly assigned to either high or low stereotype threat conditions involving a challenging mathematics task while physiological measures of arousal were recorded. Results showed significant physiological reactance (skin conductance, skin temperature, blood pressure) as a function of a stereotype threat manipulation. These findings are consistent with the argument that stereotype threat manipulations either increase or decrease situational‐specific anxiety, and hold significant implications for thinking about fair assessment and testing practices in academic settings.