Unhealthy interactions: the role of stereotype threat in health disparities

Am J Public Health. 2013 Jan;103(1):50-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300828. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Stereotype threat is the unpleasant psychological experience of confronting negative stereotypes about race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or social status. Hundreds of published studies show how the experience of stereotype threat can impair intellectual functioning and interfere with test and school performance. Numerous published interventions derived from this research have improved the performance and motivation of individuals targeted by low-ability stereotypes. Stereotype threat theory and research provide a useful lens for understanding and reducing the negative health consequences of interracial interactions for African Americans and members of similarly stigmatized minority groups. Here we summarize the educational outcomes of stereotype threat and examine the implications of stereotype threat for health and health-related behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Racism
  • Stereotyping*