Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award - First Place.

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Open Access Thesis


Stereotype threat effects have been a popular domain of much psychological inquiry over the past decade. A number of psychological dispositions (e.g., high levels of stigma consciousness, high levels of social dominance orientation, and high levels of domain identification), situational factors (e.g., out-group presence and task difficulty), and physiological characteristics ( e.g., levels of circulating testosterone) have been identified as factors that determine one's susceptibility to the performance debilitating effects of negative stereotype activation. Although each of these variables has been found to be important in eliciting underperformance under threat, no attempts have yet investigated the relationships between these variables. This study explains the theoretical mechanisms proposed by previous investigations, proposes a framework in which these many mechanisms might be related, and then tests a portion of the framework to examine the potential connections between these factors. One hundred twenty-five female participants gave pre-manipulation data regarding levels of stigma consciousness, social dominance orientation, math identification, personality dominance, circulating testosterone, and math ability. Following these measures, participants were presented with one of three stereotype activation manipulations consisting of a high threat condition ( consisting of a relevant, negative stereotype concerning women and math ability), a control condition (that mentions no stereotype at all), or a low threat condition (consisting of a statement meant to debunk a relevant, negative stereotype concerning women and math ability). Activation of a stigmatizing stereotype slowed response times to incorrectly answered items, and high levels of stigma consciousness enhanced performance following a message debunking stigmatizing stereotypes. Furthermore, stigma consciousness enhanced performance scores among participants in the low threat condition. No effects of dominance measures (i.e., personality dominance, social dominance orientation, or testosterone) were found. The findings provide some support for the theory that cognitive resources are diminished following stigmatizing stereotypes resulting in a slower performance on stigma-related tasks. The moderating role of stigma consciousness, however, seems to differently affect performance by affecting task ability directly. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of a social-cognitive theory of stereotype threat phenomena.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen C. Harton, Chair, Thesis Committee


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 108 pages)



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