Stereotype and Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat is a situational predicament in which people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group. Stereotype threat is purportedly a contributing factor to long-standing racial and gender gaps in academic performance. Stereotypes can be categorized in various forms to individuals based on:

  • Racial, national and ethnic identity
  • Cultural references
  • Bodily appearance
  • Gender and Sexual Orientation
  • Political viewpoint
  • Grouping of Individual e.g. Jocks, Nerds, Emo etc.

Decreased performance is the most recognized consequence of stereotype threat. However, research has also shown that stereotype threat can cause individuals to blame themselves for perceived failures, self-handicap, discount the value and validity of performance tasks, distance themselves from negatively stereotyped groups, and disengage from situations that are perceived as threatening to themselves. Here are the five key steps to mitigate stereotyping threat:

  1. Tell friends and family that you have your own people with a different personality and behavioural traits. Proper awareness of stereotyping threat can eliminate future stereotyping.
  2. Increase social acceptability by making them feel desired as it tends to make them more likely to ignore stereotypes.
  3. Construct environments and have the physical objects in the environment so as not to reflect one majority group by increasing the representation of minority groups.
  4. Directly communicate that diversity is valued and welcomed. Promote cross-group relations between people of varying backgrounds.
  5. Encourage yourself to reflect on their individual identities

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