Stereotype threat in the classroom: dejection mediates the disrupting threat effect on women's math performance

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003 Mar;29(3):371-81. doi: 10.1177/0146167202250218.


Research on stereotype threat, which is defined as the risk of confirming a negative stereotypic expectation about one's group, has demonstrated that the applicability of negative stereotypes disrupts the performance of stigmatized social groups. While it has been shown that a reduction of stereotype threat leads to improved performance by members of stigmatized groups, there is a lack of clear-cut findings about the mediating processes. The aim of the present study is to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms that stereotype threat causes in women working on mathematical problems. In addition, the study set out to test stereotype threat theory in a natural environment: high school classrooms. The experiment involved the manipulation of the gender fairness of a math test. The results indicate that the stereotype threat effect exists in this everyday setting. Moreover, it appears that dejection emotions mediate the effect of threat manipulation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Education
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Stereotyping*
  • Women / psychology*