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This research independently manipulated two potential attenuators of stereotype threat – reappraisal of anxiety and test framing – to explore their independent and combined effects. Female participants took a difficult math exam that was described as gender-biased or gender-fair and were told that anxious arousal could positively impact performance or were given no information regarding arousal. Levels of the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune marker of inflammation, were measured in oral mucosal transudate (OMT) both before and after the exam. Our findings indicate that directing reappraisal of physiological arousal attenuated increases in IL-6 across test framing conditions, and was especially effective under stereotype threat (i.e., gender-biased test condition). Reappraisal also mapped onto better test performance in the threat condition. Together, these findings provide insight into the unique and interactive effects of two situational interventions meant to reduce stereotype threat, indexed here by both physiological and performance-based correlates of threat.
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Cytokine responses and math performance: The role of stereotype threat
and anxiety reappraisals
Neha A. John-Henderson , Michelle L. Rheinschmidt, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, USA
HIGHLIGHTS
Female college students take a math exam described as gender-fair or gender-biased.
In one condition, participants directed to reappraise physiological arousal.
Performance on math exam and post-exam levels of the cytokine IL-6 were measured.
Reappraisal of physiological arousal buffers inammatory responses to exam across conditions.
Reappraisal of arousal especially effective buffer of inammatory responses in stereotype threat condition.
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 11 January 2014
Revised 1 October 2014
Available online 30 October 2014
Keywords:
Stereotype threat
Reappraisal
Stress
Gender
Inammation
This research independently manipulated two potential attenuators of stereotype threat reappraisal of anxiety
and test framing to explore their independent and combined effects. Female participants took a difcult math
exam that was described as gender-biased or gender-fair and were told that anxious arousal could positively
impact performance or were given no information regarding arousal. Levels of the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6),
an immune marker of inammation, were measured in oral mucosal transudate (OMT) both before and after
the exam. Our ndings indicate that directing reappraisal of physiological arousal attenuated increases in IL-6
across test framing conditions, and was especially effective under stereotype threat (i.e., gender-biased
test condition). Reappraisal also mapped onto better test performance in the threat condition. Together,
these ndings provide insight into the unique and interactive effects of two situational interventions meant to
reduce stereotype threat, indexed here by both physiological and performance-based correlates of threat.
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Introduction
A widely shared stereotype in our society alleges that women possess
weaker mathematical abilities than men (Cheryan, Plaut, Davies, &
Steele, 2009; Swim, 1994). Women risk being judged by this stereotype
and worry that they will conrm negative stereotypes when performing
math tasks; such gender-based stereotype threat has been linked to anx-
iety, cognitive resource depletion, and underperformance (e.g., Johns,
Schmader, & Martens, 2005; Mendoza-Denton, Kahn, & Chan, 2008).
Prior research has shown that reappraising anxious arousal as bene-
cial to performance yields better performance and more adaptive phys-
iological responses relative to providing no reappraisal instructions
(Jamieson, Mendes, Blackstock, & Schmader, 2010; Jamieson, Nock, &
Mendes, 2012). Targets of negative stereotypes may be especially likely
to benet from reappraisal, given the heightened state of anxiety and
physiological arousal inherent to the experience of stereotype threat
(Schmader,Johns,&Forbes,2008). Indeed, Johns, Inzlicht, and Schmader
(2008) observed benets of reappraising anxiety on test performance
among participants under stereotype threat; however, to our knowledge
no research has addressed whether reappraisal strategies also reduce the
physiological consequences associated with stereotype threat. We ll
this gap in the literature by experimentally testing whether reappraisal
of anxiety, specically among women in math contexts, diminishes both
performance impairments and increases in a marker of inammation
associated with stereotype threat.
In this research we specically focused on the effects of reappraisal on
the pro-inammatory cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Pro-inammatory
cytokines such as IL-6 are critical for orchestrating the body's inammato-
ry response, which is crucial to ghting injury or infection (Parkin &
Cohen, 2001; Segerstrom & Miller, 2004). However, if the inammatory
response becomes persistent or exaggerated it can lead to a host of
diseases and health conditions. Inammation is increasingly recognized
as a risk factor for illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 56 (2015) 203206
Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, University of California,
Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall #1650, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650, USA.
E-mail address: nehajohn@berkeley.edu (N.A. John-Henderson).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2014.10.002
0022-1031 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jesp
disorders, and some cancers (Cesari, Penninx, & Newman, 2003; Nathan
&Ding,2010).
Prior research (e.g., Dickerson, Gable, Irwin, Aziz, & Kemeny, 2009;
Murali, Hanson, & Chen, 2007) suggests shifts in inammatory cytokine
levels in response to situational stressors (e.g., taking an exam). While
IL-6 in particular can exert both inammatory and anti-inammatory
effects (Scheller, Chalaris, Schmidt-Arras, & Rose-John, 2011), prior
research characterizes increases in IL-6 specically in response to a
stressor as signaling an inammatory response (Dickerson et al., 2009;
John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, Mendoza-Denton, & Francis, 2014;
Slavich, Way, Eisenberger, & Taylor, 2010). In this research, we assessed
changes in IL-6 in oral mucosal transudate (OMT). While levels of
inammatory cytokines in OMT are not a reection of systemic inam-
mation, which is assessed through blood (Fernandez-Botran, Miller,
Burns, & Newton, 2011), inammatory markers in OMT have been
shown to be affected by acute situational stressors (Chiang, Eisenberger,
Seeman, & Taylor, 2012; John-Henderson et al., 2014; Slavich et al., 2010).
Method
Participants and procedure
Ninety-seven female undergraduates at UC Berkeley participated for
partial course credit. Their ages ranged from 18 to 35 years (M=20.88,
SD = 2.77), and the ethnic composition was 53.6% Asian, 21.6% White,
16.4% Hispanic, .06% other, and .02% African American.
This study crossed previously published manipulations of stereotype
threat (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999) and reappraisal of anxiety
(Jamieson et al., 2010). We manipulated stereotype threat by following
the exact procedure of Spencer et al. (1999).Morespecically, we
described the math exam as a test of intellectual ability for solving math
problems that had or had not produced gender differences in perfor-
mance. We also varied whether participants received reappraisal instruc-
tions or no information about reappraisal. Using the wording of Jamieson
et al. (2010), the reappraisal instructions encouraged participants to view
arousal and anxiety as helpful to test performance. Participants were ran-
domly and independently assigned to condition. Participants provided
samples of oral mucosal transudate (OMT) at three time points (baseline,
post-exam, and recovery) to assess changes in IL-6 in response to the ex-
perimental manipulations. The experimenters were blind to participants'
condition, as all manipulations occurred via paper-based instructions
embedded in the math examination packet. Participants were given
30 min to complete the test.
Measures
Test performance
We measured the number of correct responses on a 17-item math
exam modeled after the Graduate Record Examination (M= 11.6,
SD = 4.3).
Inammation measures
We assessed IL-6 levels in OMT. Participants provided a baseline OMT
sample for IL-6 measurement upon arrival to the lab (M= .45 pg/mL,
SD = .30). An OraSure collection device (Epitope, Beaverton, OR) was
placed between the lower cheek and gum for 2 min. The exam lasted
for 30 min, after which a second sample of OMT was taken using the
same method to assess changes in IL-6 (M= 1.98 pg/mL, SD = 2.52).
Athird,nal sample was taken 30 min after the second sample to
gauge recovery (M= 1.82 pg/mL, SD = 2.44).
All OMT samples were immediately frozen and stored at 80°°C.
IL-6 concentrations were determined by an enzyme-linkedimmunosor-
bent assay using commercially available kits (R&D systems, Minneapolis,
MN). The intra-assay coefcient of variation (CV) was 6.5% and the
inter-assay CV was 8.7%. ShapiroWilk tests (Shapiro & Wilk, 1965)re-
vealed that IL-6 values at each time point were not normally distributed
(baseline: W= .91, pb.001, post-exam: W= .67, pb.001, recovery:
W=.65,pb.001). Thus, following prior research (John-Henderson,
Jacobs, Mendoza-Denton, & Francis, 2013)weaddedaconstantof
one to all raw values (see Osborne, 2002) before applying a log-
transformation to IL-6 values. In addition to measuring IL-6 levels, we
measured levels of total protein in each OMT sample using the BCA
protein assay with bovine serum albumin as the standard (Thermo-
scientic, Rockford, IL) to control for individual differences in salivary
ow rate (Dickerson, Kemeney, Aziz, Kim, & Fahey, 2004). Salivary
ow rate was specic to each sample timepoint, given documented
uctuations in these rates under acute stress (Bakke et al., 2004). All
total protein samples were run in triplicate following kit instructions.
Body mass index (BMI)
Given its relationship with levels of IL-6 in previous research
(Khaodhiar, Ling, Blackburn, & Bistrian, 2004), we calculated partici-
pants' BMI (M= 21.96, SD = 3.10) from their self-reported height
and weight for use as a covariate in the IL-6 analyses.
Results
IL-6 reactivity
We conducted a general linear model analysis predicting IL-6 levels
as a function of the sample timepoint (3 within-participant levels: base-
line, post-exam, recovery) and our between-participant factors of
test framing (2 levels: gender-biased, gender-fair) and reappraisal
instructions (2 levels: instructions, no instructions). We contrast-coded
condition assignments prior to analyses (for reappraisal instructions:
.5 = no mention of arousal, .5 = arousal helps performance; for test
framing: .5 = gender-fair, .5 = gender-biased). We included total
protein levels at each timepoint and BMI as covariates; all were mean-
centered. Based on Mauchly's test of sphericity, χ
2
(2) = 42.79,
pb.001, we applied a GreenhouseGeisser correction (ε= .72) to esti-
mate our overall effect more conservatively. We report adjusted degrees
of freedom below.
Our analysis revealed the predicted 3-way interaction of time,
test framing, and reappraisal instructions, F(1.43, 121.50) = 10.25,
pb.001 η
p
2
=.11.
1
BMI accounted for a signicant amount of variance
between participants, F(1, 85) = 4.39, p=.04,η
p
2
= .05, but total pro-
tein levels at baseline, post-exam, and recovery did not, p'sN.34, all
η
p
2
b01. We broke down the 3-way interaction by looking at the effects
of reappraisal instructions within test framing condition. Specically,
we examined whether changes in IL-6 could be characterized by linear
and/or quadratic trends over time as a function of reappraisal condition.
In the gender-biased test condition, we observed a signicant
simple interaction between time and reappraisal instruction condition
F(1, 85) = 59.75, pb.001, η
p
2
= .41, for the linear effect of time, and
F(1, 85) = 65.32, pb.001, η
p
2
= .44, for the quadratic effect of time.
We conducted simple comparisons at each timepoint to identify signif-
icant differences in IL-6 levels by reappraisal condition, applying a
Bonferroni correction to reduce Type 1 error. As illustrated in Panel A
of Fig. 1, these comparisons indicate no IL-6 differences at baseline,
F(1, 85) = 1.17, p=.28,η
p
2
= .01. However, women in the reappraisal
instruction condition (vs. no instructions condition) had signicantly
lower levels of IL-6 during the post-exam, F(1, 85) = 61.30, pb.001,
η
p
2
= .42, and recovery periods, F(1, 85) = 54.15, pb.001, η
p
2
= .39.
In the gender-fair test condition, we observed a signicant simple
interaction between time and the reappraisal instruction manipula-
tion, F(1, 85) = 6.85, p= .01, η
p
2
= .08, for the linear effect of time,
and F(1, 85) = 6.32, p= .01, η
p
2
= .07, for the quadratic effect of time.
1
We conrmed that our models hold when using age, subjecti ve general health ,
current illness (1 = yes; 0 = no), and chronic health conditions (1 = yes; 0 = no) as
covariates. Further, we repeated the anal yses while excluding anyone with a physical
illness and/or chronic health condition, and our results hold.
204 N.A. John-Henderson et al. / Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 56 (2015) 203206
We isolated these divergent trajectories by conducting simple compar-
isons at each timepoint, again using a Bonferroni correction (see Fig. 1,
Panel B). We found no statistically signicant IL-6 differences at base-
line according to reappraisal instruction condition, F(1, 85) = 2.91,
p=.09,η
p
2
= .03. However, at the post-exam and recovery timepoints,
receiving reappraisal instructions yielded lower levels of IL-6 relative
to receiving no instructions, F(1, 85) = 10.83, p= .001, η
p
2
= .11, for
post-exam, and F(1, 85) = 12.66, p=.001,η
p
2
= .13, for recovery.
Looking within women who did not receive reappraisal instructions,
we observed a signicant simple interaction between time and test
framing condition, F(1, 85) = 57.58, pb.001, η
p
2
= .40, for the linear
effect of time, and F(1, 85) = 64.16, pb.001, η
p
2
= .43, for the quadratic
effect of time. Women in the gender-biased condition had higher levels
of IL-6 at post-exam, F(1, 85) = 71.23, pb.001, η
p
2
= .46, and recovery,
F(1, 85) = 60.93, pb.001, η
p
2
= .42, than those in the gender-fair
condition.
Among women who received reappraisal instructions, we observed
a signicant simple interaction between time and testing framing
condition, F(1, 85) = 6.90, p= .01, η
p
2
= .08, for the linear effect of
time, and F(1, 85) = 6.74, p= .01, η
p
2
= .07, for the quadratic effect of
time. However, we found smaller effects of test framing at post-exam,
F(1, 85) = 15.65, pb.001, η
p
2
= .16, and recovery, F(1, 85) = 16.47,
pb.001, η
p
2
= .16, than we did in the no reappraisal condition.
In summary, across both test framing conditions, women who
received reappraisal instructions (vs. no instructions) showed lower
levels of IL-6 following a difcult math exam. We observed larger effects
of reappraisal in the gender-biased condition. Further, we observed
larger effects of stereotype threat when no reappraisal instructions
were given.In the gender-biased condition, women who did not receive
reappraisal instructions had higher peak levels of IL-6 than all other
women (see Fig. 1), suggesting that these women were especially
vulnerable to rises in IL-6 following the exam.
Test performance
We observed a signicant zero-order correlation between post-exam
inammation levels and exam performance, r(97) = .49, pb.001. We
observed a non-signicant partial correlation between post-exam
inammation levels and exam performance, after controlling for our
experimental conditions, BMI, IL-6 levels at baseline, and total protein
levels at baseline and post-exam, r(86) = .08, p= .46.
We conducted an ANOVA with test framing condition and reap-
praisal instruction condition as independent variables to see whether
our experimental manipulations interacted to predict test performance.
We observed main effects of both the test framing manipulation,
F(1, 93) = 47.38, pb.001, η
p
2
= .34, and the reappraisal instruction
manipulation, F(1, 93) = 9.34, p= .003, η
p
2
= .09. These main effects
were qualied by a marginally signicant interaction between the two
manipulations, F(1, 93) = 3.34, p= .07, η
p
2
= .04. As illustrated in
Fig. 2, participants performed signicantly better under stereotype threat
when given reappraisal instructions versus no instructions, F(1, 93) =
12.05, p= .001, η
p
2
= .12. Women's performance in the gender-fair test
framing condition did not differ as a function of reappraisal instructions,
F(1, 93) = .75, p= .39, η
p
2
= .008. Thus, reappraisal was most benecial
to performance under stereotype threat.
We also tested whether our stereotype threat manipulation was more
potent in the absence of reappraisal instructions. Looking at women who
did not receive reappraisal instructions, we observed worse performance
in the gender-biased condition compared to the gender-fair condition,
F(1, 93) = 38.33, pb.001, η
p
2
= .29. This difference by test framing
condition was indeed less pronounced among women who received
reappraisal instructions, F(1, 93) = 12.65, p= .001, η
p
2
=.12.
General discussion
Our experimental ndings provide evidence that reappraisal of
anxiety yields better performance and lower IL-6 activation under
stereotype threat relative to receiving no reappraisal instructions. We
extend Jamieson et al. (2010) by exploring the benets of reappraisal
among negatively stereotyped individuals, who have known vulnerabil-
ities to under-performance and increases in IL-6 under stereotype threat
(John-Henderson et al., 2014).
We might have expected that reappraisal helps performance in any
testing situation, given that reappraisal of anxiety has been found to
help even members of non-stigmatized groups (e.g., men; Jamieson
et al., 2010). Here, we did not nd that reappraisal boosted performance
relative to no reappraisal instructions when the test was framed as
gender-fair. The discrepancy in our ndings might be explained by the
fact that Jamieson et al.'s (2010) research did not make stereotypes
or gender differences salient. By contrast, our ndings suggest that a
Fig. 1. Average IL-6 levels by time of sample (x-axis), reappraisal instructions (separate
lines), and test framing (Panels A vs. B). IL-6 values have been transformed by adding a
constant of 1 and then performing a log-transformation. Slopes between timepoints are
not statistically signicant (pN.05)unless notedabove the slope.All pvalues were adjusted
with a Bonferroni correction. Error bars represent standard error. *** pb.001.
Fig. 2. Performance ona mathematics examinationas a function of the reappraisal instruc-
tion condition and the test framing condition. Error bars represent standard error.
205N.A. John-Henderson et al. / Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 56 (2015) 203206
gender-fair message may be enough, even without reappraisal, to release
women from the cognitive intrusions associated with stereotype threat.
Limitations and future directions
A limitation of our research is that we did not inquire about the
smoking behavior of our participants, a possible predictor of oral
inammation
2
.Givenourndings, it will be important for future research
to examine whether the patterns observed here emerge via measure-
ment of inammation in blood plasma, so as to examine more directly
the implications of this research for longer-term health outcomes and
vulnerabilities.
Our ndings might also align with work showing increases in sali-
vary alpha amylase (sAA), reecting increased sympathetic nervous
system activation when reappraisal instructions are given in testing
contexts (Jamieson et al., 2010). In addition, based on a large body of
literature showing that cortisol levels increase in response to naturalis-
tic acute stressors (e.g., Weekes et al., 2006), we would expect to nd
that changes in cortisol would parallel the increase in IL-6 in this
research. An important extension of this work will be to examine the
simultaneous or differential trajectories of these physiological systems.
This type of multi-modal investigation would allow for amore thorough
understanding of the mechanisms that explain the variance in IL-6
levels documented here.
Acknowledgments
The rst two authors contributed equally to the development of this
project and the ideas within it. We are grateful for the datacollection as-
sistance of Leeran Baraness, Hardev Chhokar, Mary Cunningham, and
Meital Mashash. We would also like to thank Darlene Francis for her
feedback during initial stages of the project and for her support in
conducting the assays for this research. This work was supported by
the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
awarded to Michelle L. Rheinschmidt and by the National Science Foun-
dation Award HRD-1306709.
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1025389060102.
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Only 2.3% of female undergraduates on campus report using cigarettes 10 or more
days per month (American College Health Association, 2013).
206 N.A. John-Henderson et al. / Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 56 (2015) 203206
... Given that challenge and threat states stem from appraisals, altering those appraisals has the poten- tial to influence affective responses and subsequent motivational, behavioral, and health outcomes. Indeed, research on stress reappraisal has successfully optimized stress responses by presenting stress responses as a coping resource (e.g., Beltzer, Nock, Peters, & Jamieson, 2014;Jamieson et al., 2012;Jamieson, Mendes, Blackstock, & Schmader, 2010;Jamieson, Peters, Greenwood, & Altose, 2016;John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, & Mendoza-Denton, 2015;Moore, Vine, Wilson, & Freeman, 2015;Sammy et al., 2017). Presenting stress as a coping resource stands in stark contrast to how people typically perceive stress. ...
... First, it tested the efficacy of stress reappraisal in an interpersonal context. To date, the effects of stress reappraisal on cognitive performance have been limited to solo social evaluative situations (e.g., Jamieson et al., 2010;Jamieson et al., 2016;John-Henderson et al., 2015). Second, physiological responses to competition were measured in vivo during competitive performance, whereas previous research assessed physiological responses prior to competitive events ( Moore et al., 2013;Moore et al., 2015;Sammy et al., 2017). ...
... Second, no gender differ- ences as a function of stress reappraisal have been observed in previous research using math tasks (e.g., Jamieson et al., 2010;. Finally, and most notably, stress reappraisal has specifically been shown to alleviate stereotype threat effects (John-Henderson et al., 2015). ...
Article
Background and objectives: Effects of reappraising stress arousal during an interpersonal competition were tested on physiological functioning and performance. Additionally, the moderating role of gender was explored. Design and method: Participants (N = 279) were randomly assigned to a stress reappraisal, stress-is-debilitating, or a neutral control condition. Reappraisal materials educated participants about the adaptive benefits of stress, whereas stress-is-debilitating materials instructed participants to avoid stress. Control materials did not mention stress. Participants then competed against a gender-matched confederate on a 10-minute math performance task while cardiovascular reactivity was assessed. Participants were instructed to complete math problems as quickly and accurately as they could and were informed that a winner and loser would be determined by the resulting math scores. Results: Reappraising stress arousal led to more adaptive challenge-like cardiovascular responses, but no condition effects were observed on math performance. Exploratory analyses revealed that reappraisal instructions were effective for improving physiological functioning and facilitating performance for men, but women were unaffected by the manipulation. Conclusions: Reappraising stress arousal can improve physiological functioning during interpersonal competitions, but effects may be limited to men. Implications for future research are discussed.
... Research on stress reappraisal has specifically focused on manipulating appraisal processes -pri- marily resource appraisals -to optimize acute stress responses (e.g., Beltzer, Nock, Peters, & Jamieson, 2014;Jamieson, Mendes, Blackstock, & Schmader, 2010;Jamieson et al., 2012Jamieson et al., , 2016John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, & Mendoza-Denton, 2015;Moore, Vine, Wilson, & Freeman, 2015;Sammy et al., 2017). In this line of research the arousal that individuals experience during stressful situations is conceptualized as a functional resource that can benefit psychological, biological, and performance and behavioral outcomes. ...
... To date, research has primarily utilized two types of reappraisal manipulations: (a) a ∼10-min reading/Q&A exercise comprised of summaries of scientific articles on the adaptive benefits of stress responses (e.g., Jamieson et al., 2012Jamieson et al., , 2016; materials available at: http://socialstresslab.wixsite.com/urochester/research), and (b) a "short form," paragraph length instruction (e.g., Jamieson et al., 2010;John-Henderson et al., 2015;Jones & Hanton, 1996), one of which is presented below. For instance, Jamieson et al. (2010) used the following short-form instruc- tions to manipulate appraisals prior to a standardized test (the Graduate Record Examination), People think that feeling anxious while taking a standardized test will make them do poorly on the test. ...
... Subsequently, research using the same instruction materials as Jamieson et al. (2010) replicated quantitative performance effects in a stereotype threat context, and also demonstrated that arousal reappraisal reduced acute levels of an immune marker of inflammation (interleukin-6) relative to controls (John-Henderson et al., 2015). Extending to classroom settings, a double-blind random- ized field study demonstrated that instructing students to appraise stress as a functional tool immedi- ately before math exams reduced evaluation anxiety and improved exam performance by increasing resource appraisals ( Jamieson et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Background: The dominant perspective in society is that stress has negative consequences, and not surprisingly, the vast majority of interventions for coping with stress focus on reducing the frequency or severity of stressors. However, the effectiveness of stress attenuation is limited because it is often not possible to avoid stressors, and avoiding or minimizing stress can lead individuals to miss opportunities for performance and growth. Thus, during stressful situations, a more efficacious approach is to optimize stress responses (i.e., promote adaptive, approach-motivated responses). Objectives and Conclusions: In this review, we demonstrate how stress appraisals (e.g., [Jamieson, J. P., Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Mind over matter: reappraising arousal improves cardiovascular and cognitive responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 417–422. doi:10.1037/a0025719]) and stress mindsets (e.g., [Crum, A. J., Salovey, P., & Achor, S. (2013). Rethinking stress: The role of mindsets in determining the stress response. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(4), 716–733. doi:10.1037/a0031201]) can be used as regulatory tools to optimize stress responses, facilitate performance, and promote active coping. Respectively, these interventions invite individuals to (a) perceive stress responses as functional and adaptive, and (b) see the opportunity inherent in stress. We then propose a novel integration of reappraisal and mindset models to maximize the utility and effectiveness of stress optimization. Additionally, we discuss future directions with regard to how stress responses unfold over time and between people to impact outcomes in the domains of education, organizations, and clinical science.
... Both situational and generalized stress beliefs have been linked to health-and performance-related outcomes. Positive stress reappraisal has been linked to increased academic and social-evaluative performance, reduced performance anxiety [14][15][16][17], and a healthier physiological stress response [18][19][20][21]. ...
... Future studies should apply event-related momentary assessments to further reduce a potential influence of daily recall effects. Moreover, assessing the occurrence of stressors beyond self- 17 report using personal sensing [67] or physiological indicators could facilitate research on the effects of stress beliefs outside the laboratory. ...
Article
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Background Negative beliefs about the effects of stress have been associated with poorer health and increased mortality. However, evidence on the psychological mechanisms linking stress beliefs to health is scarce, especially regarding real-life stress. Purpose The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of stress beliefs on affect in the daily stress process in a population prone to health-impairing effects of stress: university students. Methods Using daily diaries, 98 university students reported on daily perceived social and work-related stressors as well as positive and negative affect for 10 consecutive days. Stress beliefs, depressive and anxiety symptoms, neuroticism, and demographic variables were assessed prior to the daily diary phase. Results Hierarchical linear models revealed a significant cross-level interaction between negative stress beliefs and the association of daily social stressors with negative affect (B = 0.24; 99% confidence interval [CI] = 0.08–0.41, p < .001). When experiencing social stress, participants who held high negative stress beliefs had higher daily negative affect (simple slope = 4.09; p < .001); however, for participants who held low negative stress beliefs the association between daily social stress and daily negative affect was considerably smaller (simple slope = 2.12; p < .001). Moreover, individuals believing stress to be controllable showed higher positive affect throughout the 10-day daily diary phase. Conclusions Negative stress beliefs were found to moderate the affective response to daily real-life stressors. Given the established relationship between affect and health, this study provides initial evidence of psychological mechanisms linking stress beliefs to health.
... Those who valued negative emotions (e.g., anger, nervousness) showed weaker links between the negative emotions they experienced day-to-day and poor psychosocial functioning and physical health ( Luong et al., 2015). Other studies have shown that inducing positive beliefs about the functionality of specific emotional states (e.g., anxiety) or features (e.g., physiological arousal) promotes recovery from stressful situations ( Low et al., 2008;Jamieson et al., 2010Jamieson et al., , 2012John- Henderson et al., 2015), and wellbeing (Chow and Berenbaum, 2016). The fact that negative emotions can be viewed as useful shows that people's beliefs about the functionality of emotion do not simply reflect how they want to feel (Chow et al., 2015), or how pleasurable they perceive certain feelings to be (Netzer et al., 2018). ...
Article
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This investigation examined how people’s beliefs about the functionality of emotion shape their emotional response and regulatory strategies when encountering distressing events. In Study 1, we present data supporting the reliability and validity of an 8-item instrument, the Help and Hinder Theories about Emotion Measure (HHTEM), designed to assess an individual’s beliefs about the functionality of emotion. Participants who more strongly endorsed a Help Theory reported greater wellbeing, emotional acceptance, and use of reappraisal to regulate emotion. Participants who more strongly endorsed a Hinder Theory reported less wellbeing and more expressive suppression and substance use. In Study 2, we demonstrate that encouraging participants to view emotion as helpful affected their physiological and regulatory response to a distressing event. Participants in the Help Theory condition showed greater physiological reactivity (SCL) during a distressing film than control participants but were more accepting of their emotional response. Shortly after the film, SCL decreased for participants in the Help Theory condition. Compared to control participants, they engaged in less suppression and reported less lingering effect of the film on their mood. Together, these studies suggest that people’s theories about the functionality of emotion influence their reactivity, the strategies they adopt to regulate emotion, and their ability to rebound after distressing events.
... Lorsqu'un examen est présenté comme étant « diagnostic des capacités intellectuelles », les étudiants de basse classe sociale ont de plus faibles performances que leurs compères de haute classe sociale comme nous venons de l'évoquer, mais il semblerait que cela ait également un effet au niveau de leur système immunitaire. En effet, cette menace, en raison du stress qu'elle provoque, entraînerait une augmentation des réponses inflammatoires (i.e., une augmentation de la synthèse de l'Interleukine-6 qui est une cytokine se situant au niveau du foie) (John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, & Mendoza-Denton, 2015). En d'autres termes, la menace stéréotypée pourrait augmenter les risques pour la santé des individus des groupes défavorisés. ...
Thesis
Ce travail de thèse ambitionne d’identifier les processus psycho-sociaux impliqués dans le processus de mobilité ascendante. Plus précisément, nous testons dans quelle mesure le processus de mobilité que vivent les étudiants de basse classe sociale peut les amener à adopter des buts de performance-évitement (i.e., peur d’échouer), susceptible d’impacter par la suite négativement leurs performances. Dans la première étude, le lien entre les buts de performance-évitement et la performance a été testé chez les étudiants de basse et de haute classe sociale. Les résultats ont montré que l’adoption des buts de performance-évitement prédisait négativement les performances des étudiants de basse classe sociale (pas celle des étudiants de haute classe sociale) et en particulier s’ils ont de bons résultats académiques (i.e., qu’ils sont susceptibles de vivre une expérience de mobilité). Le but de la deuxième étude était de tester le rôle du processus de mobilité en tant que médiateur du lien entre la classe sociale et l’adoption de buts performance-évitement. Les résultats ont montré que c’est parce que les étudiants de basse classe sociale se sentent en mobilité ascendante, qu’ils adoptent plus de buts de performance-évitement que leurs homologues de haute classe sociale. Enfin, dans les 3 dernières études (études 3a, 3b et 3c), le processus de mobilité a été manipulé afin d’étudier son impact sur l’adoption de buts de performance-évitement et les performances des lycéens. Les résultats de l’étude 3a ont montré que chez les élèves de basse classe sociale, la saillance du processus de mobilité a augmenté l’adoption de buts de performance-évitement et a diminué les performances en mathématiques. Par ailleurs, les buts de performance-évitement semblent être un médiateur de l’effet d’interaction entre la classe sociale et la saillance du processus de mobilité sur les performances en mathématiques, bien que cet effet ne soit pas répliqué dans les études 3b et 3c. Les résultats de la méta-analyse, réalisée sur ces 3 dernières études, tendent à confirmer ces résultats. Dans l’ensemble, ces résultats s’accordent pour dire que la crainte du processus de mobilité serait l’un des mécanismes à l’origine des difficultés rencontrées par les élèves/étudiants de basse classe sociale en contexte académique et susceptibles d’expliquer, ensuite, leurs moindres performances.
... Students who are psychologically disengaged to academic performance are less motivationally involved in the stereotype threat settings because they do not value their academic performance and have separated their self-esteem from the academic ability ( Osborne et al., 2002). According to the stereotype threat hypothesis, the motivational strength causes anxiety, worry, and fear of evaluation (Bosson, Haymovitz, & Pinel, 2004;John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, & Mendoza-Denton, 2015), which may exceed the critical threshold of motivational strength and in turn inhibit the optimal cognitive functioning. Thus, it is plausible to assume that psychologically engaged individuals may suffer from stereotype threat, while psychologically disengaged individuals may not experience stereotype threat. ...
Article
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The academic underperformance of high school students with learning disabilities may reduce their access to higher education and decrease their employment opportunities. Based on stereotype threat hypothesis, the present study examined the role of stereotype threat in academic performance among adolescents with learning disabilities and the moderating role of psychological disengagement in this relation. In Study 1, 120 students with learning disabilities finished the measures of stereotype threat vulnerability and psychological disengagement, and their academic score at two time points were collected. Results showed that students who are more vulnerable to stereotype threat tend to have a lower academic score at Time 2 even after controlling for academic score at Time 1, and this relation was moderated by psychological disengagement. In Study 2, 62 sophomore students with learning disabilities finished measures of stereotype threat, academic persistence, and psychological disengagement. The results showed that the effect of stereotype threat on academic persistence was significant among students who were of low psychological disengagement, while this effect was not significant among students who were psychologically disengaged in academics. These results emphasize the individual differences of learning disabled students’ response to stereotype threat and have significant implications for framing targeted interventions.
... One such method, stress reappraisal, presents the arousal that individuals experience during stressful situations as a functional resource that can benefit psychological, biological, and performance outcomes. A growing corpus of research demonstrates the efficacy of stress reappraisal for improving individuals' stress responses (e.g., Beltzer, Nock, Peters, & Jamieson, 2014;Jamieson et al., 2010Jamieson et al., , 2012John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, & Mendoza-Denton, 2015;Moore, Vine, Wilson, & Freeman, 2015;Sammy et al., 2017). ...
Preprint
How does emotion regulation impact teammates? We present data from a dyadic experiment(N=266) that assessed in vivo stress responses in teammates during collaborative (a face-to-face product design task) and then individual work (a product pitch to evaluators). Throughout the experiment, one manipulated teammate reappraised their stress arousal (reappraisal), suppressed their emotional displays (suppression), or received no instructions (control). Their non- manipulated teammate received no instructions. Stress reappraisal benefited both teammates, eliciting challenge-like physiological responses (higher cardiac output, lower total peripheral resistance) relative to the suppression and control conditions. These effects were observed during both face-to-face collaborative work and later individual work. A mediation model suggests that the face-to-face social contagion effects of stress reappraisal fed forward to promote non- manipulated teammates’ improved stress responses during the individual performance task. These findings indicate that non-manipulated teammates exhibited improved stress responses simply by interacting with a person who reappraised their stress as functional.
... For example, Dickerson et al (2009) found that exposure to social-evaluative threat is associated with increased production of and decreased glucocorticoid suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α, a notable cytokine in the development and symptoms of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's 16 disease (e.g., Vasanthi et al., 2007). Similarly, other research has documented that exposure in the laboratory to social-evaluative threat is effective at inducing increases in salivary alpha-amylase, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), C-reactive protein, and interleukin-6 (Laurent et al., 2015;John-Henderson et al., 2015). ...
Article
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Background: Current evidence suggests that exposure to social-evaluative threat (SET) can elicit a physiological stress response, especially cortisol, which is an important regulatory hormone. However, an alternative explanation of these findings is that social-evaluative laboratory tasks are more difficult, or confer greater cognitive load, than non-evaluative tasks. Thus, the current experiment tested whether social-evaluative threat, rather than cognitive load, is truly an "active ingredient" in eliciting a cortisol response to stressors. Methods: Healthy undergraduate students (N = 142, 65% female) were randomly assigned to one of four speech-stressor conditions in a fully-crossed two (social-evaluative threat [SET] manipulation: non-SET versus SET) by two (cognitive load manipulation: low versus high) stressor manipulation. Social-evaluative threat was manipulated by the presence (SET) or absence (non-SET) of two evaluators, while cognitive load was manipulated by the presence (LOAD) or absence (non-LOAD) of a tone-counting task during the speech stressor. Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular measures were taken before, during, and after the speech stressor. Results: Compared to the non-SET condition, SET condition led to greater cortisol and cardiovascular responses to the speech stressor. There were no main or additive effects of cognitive load on cortisol and cardiovascular responses to the speech stressor. Conclusions: These findings suggest that social-evaluative threat is a central aspect of stressors that elicits a cortisol response; however we found no evidence that increased difficulty, or cognitive load, contributed to greater cardiovascular or cortisol responses to stressors.
... At the affective level, completing a difficult task in an evaluative context (e.g. classroom environment) leads high trait anxiety individuals or those under stereotype threat to experience acute reactions of stress and negative emotions [42,43]. At the motivational level, self-evaluation threats induce conscious reactions that also often hamper performance: for instance, evaluative threats increase explicit efforts to monitor the situation in order to minimize the aversive anxiety state or emotions [44,45] or to disconfirm the stereotype [46]. ...
Article
This article examines how the educational system participates in the reproduction of social inequality. After exposing the basics of the Social Reproduction Theory developed in sociology by Bourdieu and Passeron in 1977, we examine the research in social psychology that documents the reality of 'symbolic violence' that is the symbolic power that operates in the classroom and undermines the performance of students from underprivileged backgrounds. Three lines of research are examined: self-esteem, self-threat and research on the non-neutrality of educational settings.
Article
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Despite the commonly shared belief that effects of stress depend on the amount of stress arousal, a wide body of research derived from appraisal theory indicates that it is rather the way people think about stress what influences its’ outcomes (Akinola, Fridman, Mor, Morris, Crum, 2016; Crum, A. J., Salovey, P., Achor, S., 2013; Cohen, Sherman, 2014; Crum, A. J., Philips, D. J., 2015; Crum, Akinola, Martin, Fath, 2017; John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, Mendoza-Denton, 2015). The aim of this paper is to put together actual research concerning psychological interventions effective in shaping adaptive cognitive and physiological responses to stress. It is focused on arousal reappraisal as a way of enhancing performance. Literature published from 1999 to 2017 was reviewed by using the following databases: EBSCO, Google Scholar, PubMed. Arousal reappraisal interventions appeared to be effective in improving performance, eliciting more adaptive physiological responses and working in experimental and real-life context. Based on presented studies possible future applications for both business and clinical area are discussed.
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We experimentally tested whether negative stereotypes linked to lower socioeconomic status (SES), in addition to impairing academic performance (Croizet & Claire, 1998), instigate inflammation processes that are implicated in numerous disease processes. In Study 1, verbal test performance and activation of inflammation processes (measured by levels of an inflammatory protein, Interleukin-6 [IL-6]) varied as a function of SES and test framing (i.e., diagnostic vs. nondiagnostic of intellectual ability), with low SES students underperforming and exhibiting greater IL-6 production in the ''diagnostic'' condition. In Study 2, students expected their verbal exam performance to be compared to peers of higher or lower SES. Low SES students in the upward com-parison condition displayed the greatest inflammatory response and worst test performance. Across both studies, different facets of SES predicted vulnerability to negative outcomes, such that low early life SES predicted heightened inflammation responses, while low current SES predicted impaired academic performance.
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Background Subjective social status (captured by the MacArthur Scale of Subjective Social Status) is in many cases a stronger predictor of health outcomes than objective socioeconomic status (SES). Purpose The study aims to test whether implicit beliefs about social class moderate the relationship between subjective social status and inflammation. Methods We measured implicit social class bias, subjective social status, SES, and baseline levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of inflammation, in 209 healthy adults. Results Implicit social class bias significantly moderated the relationship between subjective social status and levels of IL-6, with a stronger implicit association between the concepts “lower class” and “bad” predicting greater levels of IL-6. Conclusions Implicit social class bias moderates the relationship between subjective social status and health outcomes via regulation of levels of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6. High implicit social class bias, particularly when one perceives oneself as having low social standing, may increase vulnerability to inflammatory processes.
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Assessed the accuracy of people's stereotypes about gender differences in 2 studies by comparing perceptions of sizes of gender differences with meta-analytic findings. In Study 1, with 184 psychology students, perceptions of variability among men and women and perceptions of mean differences were incorporated into measures of perceived effect sizes. In Study 2, with 145 psychology students, Ss made direct judgments about the size of gender differences. Contrary to previous assertions about people's gender stereotypes, findings indicate that people do not uniformly overestimate gender differences. The results show that Ss are more likely to be accurate or to underestimate gender differences than overestimate them, and perceptions of the size of gender differences are correlated with meta-analytic effect sizes. Furthermore, degree of accuracy is influenced by biases favoring women, in-group favoritism, and the method used to measure perceptions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The accuracy of people's stereotypes about gender differences was assessed in 2 studies by comparing perceptions of sizes of gender differences with meta-analytic findings. In Study 1, perceptions of variability among men and women and perceptions of mean differences were incorporated into measures of perceived effect sizes. In Study 2, Ss made direct judgments about the size of gender differences. Contrary to previous assertions about people's gender stereotypes, these studies' findings indicate that people do not uniformly overestimate gender differences. The results show that Ss are more likely to be accurate or to underestimate gender differences than overestimate them, and perceptions of the size of gender differences are correlated with meta-analytic effect sizes. Furthermore, degree of accuracy is influenced by biases favoring women, in-group favoritism, and the method used to measure perceptions.
Article
When women perform math, unlike men, they risk being judged by the negative stereotype that women have weaker math ability. We call this predicamentstereotype threatand hypothesize that the apprehension it causes may disrupt women's math performance. In Study 1 we demonstrated that the pattern observed in the literature that women underperform on difficult (but not easy) math tests was observed among a highly selected sample of men and women. In Study 2 we demonstrated that this difference in performance could be eliminated when we lowered stereotype threat by describing the test as not producing gender differences. However, when the test was described as producing gender differences and stereotype threat was high, women performed substantially worse than equally qualified men did. A third experiment replicated this finding with a less highly selected population and explored the mediation of the effect. The implication that stereotype threat may underlie gender differences in advanced math performance, even those that have been attributed to genetically rooted sex differences, is discussed.
Article
Assessing and understanding the health needs and capacities of college students is paramount to creating healthy campus communities. The American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) is a survey instrument developed by the ACHA in 1998 to assist institutions of higher education in achieving this goal. The ACHA-NCHA contains approximately 300 questions assessing student health status and health problems, risk and protective behaviors, access to health information, impediments to academic performance, and perceived norms across a variety of content areas (eg, injury prevention; personal safety and violence; alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; sexual health; weight, nutrition, and exercise; mental health). Twice a year, the ACHA compiles aggregate data from participating institutions in a reference group report for data comparison. Results from the Spring 2005 Reference Group (N = 54,111) are presented in this article. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Prior research has demonstrated that stereotypes affect negatively stereotyped groups in part through the implied immutability of group members’ abilities. Accordingly, a belief that ability is malleable through effort and hard work has been shown to boost the performance of negatively stereotyped groups. We predicted, however, that among favorably stereotyped groups, a belief that ability is fixed would reinforce the immutability of the group differences upon which stereotype-induced social comparisons are made [Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Stereotype lift. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 456–467] and result in enhanced performance. We found experimental support for these predictions in two favorably stereotyped groups in math: Asians (Study 1) and men (Study 2). Perceived difficulty of the math test helped explain the performance effects in Study 2. Implications of schooling emphasizing innate ability for exacerbating achievement gaps are discussed.