Stereotype threat

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Stereotype threat is when an individual is at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about his or her own group. Therefore, an individual may not perform according to his or her innate ability, rather this ability is impacted by generally held beliefs regarding this individual's grouping, whether it is by sex, age, gender, race, etc. Click Here to learn more.

Examples of Stereotype Threat

Steele & Aronson, 1995

Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002

Ambady, Paik, Steele, Owen-Smith, & Mitchell, 2004

What Economists Have to Say about Stereotype Threat

Christina Günther (MPI of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group), Neslihan Arslan Ekincib, Christiane Schwieren(University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics AWI), and Martin Strobel (Universiteit Maastricht, Department of Economics) conducted a study presenting a possible explanation for the wage gap between men and women. Their finding suggested a stereotype threat explanation for this issue. "Women tend not to compete with men in areas where they (rightly or wrongly) think that they will lose anyway – and the same holds for men."

Their findings can be linked to the performance of women in the economics classroom. Since the field of economics is perceived as a "male" field, women may underperform or be discouraged from the field due to the perception that they do not belong.

Abstract: Women can’t jump? – An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat

-How men and women respond differently in competitive situations, whether their response differences can be attributed to perceptions that women do not have the ability to equally compete against men ect. "Policy makers should recognize that the performance differ- ences during competition are likely not the result of females responding negatively to competition, but rather the result of males responding favorably to competition. They are also not likely due to misperception of relative ability, either because of self confidence differences or gender stereotypes. This suggests that efforts to expose females to competition in an effort to decrease underconfidence or improve misperceptions about ability differences may not have a significant effect on the gender gap."

How to Reduce Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat.jpg
  • Reframing the task
  • Deemphasizing threatened social identities
  • Encouraging self-affirmation
  • Emphasizing high standards with assurances of capability
  • Providing role models
  • Providing external attributions for difficulty
  • Emphasizing an incremental view of ability

Click Here for details in how to implement the above solutions.


In order to create a more inclusive classroom environment, economics professors should be aware of stereotype threat and its potential effects upon students. To explore more information concerning stereotype threat, please go to this website


Stroessner, Steven, and Catherine Good. Consortium of High Achievement and Success (CHAS) and Barnard College. Web. 11 July 2011. <>.