Stereotype Threat Reduces Motivation to Improve: Effects of Stereotype Threat and Feedback on Women's Intentions to Improve Mathematical Ability

Vincent J. Fogliati, Kay Bussey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    According to stereotype threat theory, negative stereotypes impair performance and can lead to reduced motivation. In the present study, we examined whether the female-mathematics stereotype not only impairs women's performance but also buffers their self-esteem from negative feedback and reduces their motivation to improve. Before completing a mathematics test, 80 (54 female) participants were informed either that men outperform women on the test (stereotype threat condition) or that men and women perform equally well (no-stereotype condition). Following the test, participants received positive or negative feedback prior to rating their self-esteem. Finally, participants were invited to attend free mathematics tutorials and asked to indicate their likelihood of attending. Women under stereotype threat performed worse and were less motivated than non-stereotyped women to attend mathematics tutorials after receiving negative feedback. Furthermore, although men's self-esteem was higher if they received positive rather than negative feedback, feedback valence had no effect on women's self-esteem. These results suggest that the effect of stereotype threat on women's mathematical performance is potentially compounded by its capacity to reduce motivation to improve. Practical implications are discussed, with a particular focus on the need for interventions that produce an identity-safe environment, foster an incremental view of mathematical ability, and provide information about successful role models.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)310-324
    Number of pages15
    JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
    Volume37
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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