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Social Identity Threat in Interpersonal Relationships: Activating Negative Stereotypes Decreases Social Approach Motivation

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Abstract

Research has shown that social identity threat can have a broad variety of negative consequences. However, not much is known about the consequences of social identity threat on interpersonal relationships. In the present research, we hypothesize that experiencing social identity threat decreases people’s social approach motivation towards other people related to the stereotyped domain. Specifically, we manipulated social identity threat by activating negative stereotypes about women in math. As math is an important aspect of the academic self-concept, female university students who are confronted with a negative math stereotype should experience threat towards their identity as university students. We then tested whether this threat affected female students’ motivation to approach other university students and whether the effect was mediated by a reduced sense of belonging to the university. Data from 478 participants, assessed in three experimental (Study 1a: N = 79, Study 1b: N = 164; Study 2: N = 100) and one correlational study (Study 3: N = 135), mainly supported these hypotheses. We conclude that social identity threat can be detrimental to the quality of people’s social lives.
Running head: EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION 1
Social Identity Threat in Interpersonal Relationships:
Activating Negative Stereotypes Decreases Social Approach Motivation
Sarah E. Martiny1 & Jana Nikitin2
1UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
2University of Basel, Switzerland
Article Accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
This manuscript might not exactly replicate the final version published in the journal. It is not the copy of
record.
Please cite as: Martiny, S. E., & Nikitin, J. (2018). Social identity threat in interpersonal relationships:
Activating negative stereotypes decreases social approach motivation. Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Applied. Advance online publication.
Author Note
Sarah E. Martiny, Department of Psychology, Research Group Social Psychology, UiT
The Arctic University of Norway, Norway. Jana Nikitin, Faculty of Psychology, Research
Group Personality and Developmental Psychology, University of Basel, Switzerland.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sarah E. Martiny, UiT
The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Psychology, PO Box 6050 Langnes, 9037
Tromsø, Norway, email: sarah.martiny@uit.no, phone: +47 776 20721.
Acknowledgments
We thank our students and research assistants Silvia Bettinaglio, Sarah Hoppler, Ilkim
Kilinc, Isabella Maura, and Elisa Pfeiffer for their help with the data collection.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
2
Abstract
Research has shown that social identity threat can have a broad variety of negative
consequences. However, not much is known about the consequences of social identity threat
on interpersonal relationships. In the present research, we hypothesize that experiencing
social identity threat decreases people’s social approach motivation towards other people
related to the stereotyped domain. Specifically, we manipulated social identity threat by
activating negative stereotypes about women in math. As math is an important aspect of the
academic self-concept, female university students who are confronted with a negative math
stereotype should experience threat towards their identity as university students. We then
tested whether this threat affected female students’ motivation to approach other university
students and whether the effect was mediated by a reduced sense of belonging to the
university. Data from 478 participants, assessed in three experimental (Study 1a: N = 79,
Study 1b: N = 164; Study 2: N = 100) and one correlational study (Study 3: N = 135), mainly
supported these hypotheses. We conclude that social identity threat can be detrimental to the
quality of people’s social lives.
Keywords: social identity threat, social approach motivation, sense of belonging,
gender stereotypes
Public Significance Statement
This article shows that when an individual’s competence is threatened by reminding them of a
negative group stereotype (e.g., females being reminded of the stereotype that women do
worse in math than men in university studies), this can reduce their motivation to approach
people related to the stereotyped domain (e.g., other university students). This reduced
motivation is important as it may not only have detrimental consequences for people’s social
lives, but also for their success in these domains (e.g., women might form fewer professional
networks).
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
3
Social Identity Threat in Interpersonal Relationships:
Activating Negative Stereotypes Decreases Social Approach Motivation
Most people belong to a large number of different social groups. Social identity theory
(Tajfel & Turner, 1979) states that people are motivated to regard the groups they belong to
(i.e., ingroups) positively because the value of an important social group reflects back on
people’s self-esteem. However, situations may arise in which the positivity of a social group
is threatened. Social identity threat is defined as the concern people have in situations in
which the positive image of their ingroup is threatened by the activation of negative group
stereotypes, or by the devaluation or stigmatization of the ingroup (Steele, Spencer, &
Aronson, 2002). Previous research has shown that social identity threat in the form of
negative stereotypes in a particular domain (e.g., negative stereotypes about women in math)
can contribute to the maintenance of inequality within societies by impairing the performance
of negatively stereotyped groups such as women (e.g., Murphy, Steele, & Gross, 2007;
Schmader, 2002), older people (e.g., Hess, Auman, Colcombe, & Rahhal, 2003), immigrants
(e.g., Appel, Weber, & Kronberger, 2015; Froehlich, Martiny, Deaux, Goetz, & Mok, 2016;
Martiny, Mok, Deaux, & Froehlich, 2015), and people with low socio-economic status
(Croizet & Claire, 1998; Spencer & Castano, 2007). In addition, experiencing social identity
threat in the form of negative stereotypes in a particular domain has been shown to increase
people’s avoidance of, disidentification with, and disengagement from the stereotyped domain
(e.g., Hall, Schmader, & Croft, 2015; Holleran, Whitehead, Schmader, & Mehl, 2011;
Woodcock, Hernandez, Estrada, & Schultz, 2012). Thus, experiencing social identity threat
impairs the relationship between a threatened person and the targeted domain, and has
negative consequences such as impaired performance and a reduced feeling of acceptance and
belonging to the domain (e.g., Good, Rattan, & Dweck, 2012; Hall et al., 2015; Walton &
Cohen, 2007). However, not much is known about the consequences of social identity threat
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
4
on interpersonal relationships; thus, the question arises as to whether social identity threat
may impair not only the attitudes of a targeted person towards a stereotyped domain, but also
towards people who are associated with the related domain. In the present work, we address
this question by testing the effects of social identity threat on people’s motivation to approach
positive social interactions with other people who are associated with the negatively
stereotyped domain. Specifically, we test whether female university students who are
confronted with a negative stereotype that threatens their academic self-concept are
subsequently less motivated to seek positive social relationships with other university
students.
Consequences of Social Identity Threat
As outlined earlier, one form of social identity threat is the activation of negative
stereotypes in achievement-related situations. This effect, named stereotype threat, has been
shown in numerous studies for different groups and domains (e.g., Blascovich, Spencer,
Quinn, & Steele, 2001; Croizet & Claire, 1998; Hess et al., 2003; Hively & El-Alayli, 2014;
Inzlicht & Schmader, 2012; Martiny et al., 2015; Murphy et al., 2007; Schmader, 2002;
Spencer & Castano, 2007; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, & Darley,
1999). For example, activating negative stereotypes about women’s performance in math can
decrease women’s performance in subsequent math tests compared to a control group with no
stereotype activation (e.g., Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2006; Good, Aronson, & Harder, 2008;
Keller, 2002; Murphy et al., 2007; Schmader, 2002; Schuster, Martiny, & Schmader, 2015;
Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999; for an overview see Logel, Peach, & Spencer, 2012).
Beyond performance, social identity threat can increase avoidance, disidentification,
and disengagement from the related domain (e.g., Holleran et al., 2011; Woodcock et al.,
2012). For example, a longitudinal study of undergraduate ethnic minority science students
revealed that experiencing social identity threat repeatedly led to these students disidentifying
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
5
with the scientific domain, and this disidentification reduced their intention to pursue a
scientific career (Woodcock et al., 2012). Hall and colleagues (2015) used a daily diary
methodology to investigate experiences of social identity threat among male and female
engineers. Results showed that women reported greater social identity threat on days when
their conversations with male, but not female, colleagues cued feelings of incompetence and a
lack of acceptance. One consequence of these daily variations in social identity threat was
mental exhaustion and psychological burnout.
So far, this research has focused exclusively on people’s relationships to the domain
itself (often their professional work). For example, the studies by Holleran et al. (2011) and
Hall et al. (2015) used a measure of job disengagement (Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, &
Schaufeli, 2001) that contained items such as “Lately, I tend to think less during my work and
just execute it mechanically” and “I get more and more engaged in my work” (reverse coded;
see Holleran et al., 2011, p. 67). These items assess how people feel and act towards their
work in the stereotyped domain and do not include social relationships with other people
associated with the domain, such as colleagues. In the present work, we extend this earlier
research by shifting the focus from the consequences of social identity threat on the
relationship between the person and the domain to the consequences of social identity threat
on the relationship between the person and other people in the targeted domain. It seems
reasonable that if a person disidentifies with a domain, this disidentification would spread to
the people associated with the domain. However, so far, no empirical evidence has been
provided for this claim. Furthermore, other scenarios are also possible: For example, a female
student dropping out of her engineering major might still spend leisure time with her former
classmates and have positive attitudes towards interacting with this friend group. However, in
the present work we argue that experiencing social identity threat can not only negatively
affect the attitudes threatened individuals have towards a specific domain, but also hamper
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
6
their interpersonal relationships as it decreases their motivation to pursue positive social
interactions (i.e., social approach motivation) with people associated with the stereotyped
domain.
Effects of Social Identity Threat on Social Approach Motivation
Social relationships are essential for psychological and physical health (Umberson,
Crosnoe, & Reczek, 2010). In fact, social integration can be considered a basic psychological
need (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). One important predictor of establishing satisfying social
relationships is social approach motivation (i.e., the motivation to approach positive social
outcomes such as acceptance, social integration, and love; Gable & Berkman, 2008;
Mehrabian, 1994). Social approach motivation enhances exposure to positive social events by
creating opportunities and taking advantage of potentially rewarding social interactions
(Gable, 2006). This is important because positive social encounters do not simply happen;
they must be actively approached (Elliot, Gable, & Mapes, 2006). In line with this rationale,
people with high levels of social approach motivation experience more positive social
encounters (Gable, 2006; Nikitin, Burgermeister, & Freund, 2012) and are more liked by
others than people with lower levels of social approach motivation (Nikitin & Freund, 2015).
Furthermore, research shows that social approach motivation predicts people’s positive social
behavior in interpersonal interactions (e.g., Nikitin & Freund, 2010, Study 2). Consequently,
high social approach motivation is associated with higher subjective well-being, lower levels
of loneliness, and more satisfaction with social bonds (Gable, 2006; Mehrabian, 1994; Nikitin
et al., 2012).
In the present work, we argue that experiencing social identity threat reduces social
approach motivation towards individuals associated with the threatened domain. One reason
for the reduced motivation to approach positive social interactions after dealing with social
identity threat might be people’s reduced sense of belonging to relevant groups. Earlier
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
7
research has shown that social identity threat in the form of stigmatization increases targeted
group members’ uncertainty about their social belonging in mainstream institutions like
school and work (Walton & Cohen, 2007). Because their group is often marginalized, “they
may be unsure of whether they will be fully included in positive social relationships in these
settings” (Walton & Cohen, 2011, p. 1447). For example, a stereotypical classroom
environment in computer science courses lowered girls’, but not boys’, sense of belonging in
the course (Master, Cheryan, & Meltzoff, 2016). Another study showed that the message that
women have lower mathematical ability than men eroded women’s, but not men’s, feelings of
membership and acceptance in the math domain (Good et al., 2012; for an overview of this
research see Walton & Carr, 2012). Based on earlier research showing that positive social
outcomes, such as sense of belonging, are the focus of social approach motivation (for
summaries see Gable & Berkman, 2008; Nikitin & Schoch, 2014), we argue that a reduced
sense of belonging will reduce social approach motivation, potentially because sense of
belonging is an indicator of one’s likelihood of attaining positive social outcomes (Geen,
1991). Thus, we argue that social identity threat reduces social approach motivation and that
this effect is mediated by lower levels of sense of belonging.
The Present Research
Four studies tested the prediction that social identity threat leads to reduced social
approach motivation towards people associated with the threatened domain. We tested this
prediction for female university students by activating the negative performance-related
stereotype that women have lower mathematical ability than men. Based on the fact that math
is an important aspect of the academic self-concept (e.g., Lent, Brown, & Gore, 1997; Marsh,
1993; Marsh, Byrne, & Shavelson, 1988), female students who are confronted with the
negative math stereotype should experience threat towards their identity as university
students. This threat should reduce their sense of belonging to the university and other
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
8
university students. Consequently, we predict that these women will be less motivated to seek
positive social relationships with other university students. Accordingly, in the following
studies, social approach motivation was assessed by the approach of positive social
interactions with other university students and sense of belonging was assessed by the sense
of belonging to the university and university students in general.
Study 1a and Study 1b are lab experiments examining the effect of social identity
threat on social approach motivation with female (Study 1a) and female and male participants
(Study 1b). In Study 1b, we also tested the hypothesis that social identity threat leads to a
reduced sense of belonging, which, in turn, decreases social approach motivation. In Study 2,
we aimed to test the same predictions in an environment consisting only of women, to make
sure that no cues that trigger threat might arise in the control condition and thus weaken our
experimental manipulation (see e.g., Schuster & Martiny, 2017; Sekaquaptewa & Thompson,
2003). In Study 3, we tested the ecological validity of the effects found in the lab through a
correlational study of female psychology students’ self-reported experience of social identity
threat in statistics classes.
To induce social identity threat, we used an established procedure used in stereotype
threat research that consists of (a) the manipulation text saying that women are
underrepresented in math-related fields of study and that this is often explained by men’s
superior performance in standardized math tests and (b) a subsequent math test consisting of
15 mathematical problems (Jamieson & Harkins, 2009; Schuster et al., 2015). Although we
did not aim to investigate the performance in the math test in the present research, we decided
to include a math test in the lab studies for two reasons. First, we wanted to follow the
established experimental procedure and, thus, enable comparison of our findings with existing
stereotype threat research. Second, we wanted to strengthen the social identity threat
manipulation. The 15 mathematical problems are constructed in a way so that the majority of
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
9
the participants solve only very few of them (across conditions participants in all three studies
answered on average 4.10 problems out of 15 correctly). Thus, working on the problems was
perceived as difficult and frustrating (perceived difficulty of the math test across all three
studies and conditions was M = 5.67 on a 7-point Likert scale). We assumed that in the
experimental group, but not in the control group, this negative experience of working on the
test would be interpreted as a confirmation of the stereotype and thus strengthen the
experimental manipulation.1
Study 1a
Method
Participants and design. Seventy-nine female university students (Mage = 19.82
years, SDage = 1.60; excluding two participants, one because he/she did not indicate his/her
gender, the other one because it was a man) from a small Southern German university
participated in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental
conditions (social identity threat: n = 40 vs. control condition: n = 39). A power analysis
(Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007) for a mixed-design ANOVA with two groups, a-
error probability of 0.05, power (1–b-error probability) of 0.8, and a sample size of N = 79
revealed that Study 1a was powered to find an effect of d = 0.56 (note that we converted all
effect sizes in the manuscript to Cohen’s d in order to enhance comparability between the
results; for the formulas for converting, see Cohen, 1988, pp. 281, 284, 285).
Social identity threat manipulation. After receiving general information about the
study, participants in the social identity threat condition read a short text explaining that
women are underrepresented in math-related fields of study and that the few women studying
in technical-mathematical fields, for example, have high dropout rates. It stated that this is
often explained by men’s better performance in standardized math tests (see Supplemental
Material for the complete manipulation). After reading the introductory text, participants were
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
10
informed that they would be working on one of these tests. In the control condition,
participants did not read any gender-related information before taking the math test.
Math test and questionnaire. The math test consisted of 15 mathematical problems.
Participants had to decide which of two values derived from a text or an equation was higher
(Jamieson & Harkins, 2009; Schuster et al., 2015). For example, x > y; A: 2y/4x and B: x/2y.
Participants had to choose one of the following answers: a) A is larger than B; b) B is larger
than A; c) A and B are equally large or d) the given information is insufficient to decide
whether A or B is larger.
Assessment of social approach motivation. Participants were asked to respond to
three items based on scales from Elliot et al. (2006) and Lavigne, Vallerand, and Crevier-
Braud (2011; e.g., “I find it exciting to discuss with female students on numerous topics”; 1 =
not at all true; 7 = completely true) and three newly-generated items. Of these six items, one
newly-developed item to measure social approach motivation and one exploratory item had
insufficient theoretical selectivity. That is, they did not differentiate well between approach
and avoidance with regard to the underlying motivation. Therefore, these two items were not
included in the scale (see Supplemental Material for the specific items). In order to control for
possible effects of target gender, participants were asked to complete the same items for both
male and female students (e.g., “I find it exciting to discuss with other male students on
numerous topics” and “I find it exciting to discuss with other female students on numerous
topics”; for female targets: α = .67; for male targets: α = .74). The order was counterbalanced:
Half of the participants were asked to first indicate their social approach motivation towards
other female students and then towards male students, the other half received the reverse order
(the complete scale is reported in Supplemental Material).
Procedure. After arriving in the lab, the experimenter––a female university student––
greeted the participants and seated them at a desk. Participants were asked to read and sign a
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
11
consent form. They received information about the goal of the study and the social identity
threat manipulation. Following the manipulation, participants received an example item for
the upcoming math test with the correct calculation method and the result. Participants were
instructed that they would be working on 15 math problems for the following 15 minutes and
that their goal was to be quick and to solve each problem correctly. After a start signal,
participants started working on the math test. Subsequently, they answered a questionnaire
assessing social approach motivation2 and demographics (sex, age, grade in math in the final
report of high school, and native language), were debriefed, thanked, and dismissed3.
Results and Discussion
We tested the hypothesis that the activation of negative performance-related
stereotypes would influence participants’ social approach motivation. We used a repeated
measures ANOVA with target gender (approach motivation towards male students vs. female
students) as a within-subject factor, condition as a between-subject factor, and order (1 =
motivation items answered for male students first vs. for female first) as a covariate. The main
effect of target gender was significant, F(1,76) = 17.63, p < .001, d = 0.96, indicating that our
female participants reported higher social approach motivation towards female students (M =
5.57, SE = 0.08) than male students (M = 5.18, SE = 0.09). There was no interaction between
target gender and order, p = .85, nor between target gender and condition, p = .82. As
predicted, the main effect of condition was significant, F(1,76) = 4.71, p = .03, d = .50 (see
Figure 1), indicating that participants in the social identity threat condition (M = 5.41, SE =
0.12) reported lower levels of social approach motivation than participants in the control
condition (M = 5.77, SE = 0.12). In sum, the results of Study 1a provide preliminary evidence
for the predicted effect of social identity threat on social approach motivation. In line with our
hypotheses, the activation of a negative performance-related stereotype decreased female
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
12
university students’ motivation to approach positive interactions with other male and female
university students.
Study 1b
In a next step, we aimed to replicate the results of the first study and tested whether the
decrease in social approach motivation was indeed triggered by the activation of a negative
performance-related stereotype in an achievement situation. To do so, we included both
female and male participants. As men should not be threatened by the negative stereotype
about women’s math performance, we predicted that their subsequent social approach
motivation would be less affected by the stereotype threat manipulation than women’s.
Additionally, we investigated whether sense of belonging to university mediates the
relationship between social identity threat and social approach motivation.
Method
Participants and design. One hundred and sixty-four university students (80 female;
Mage = 23.22 years, SDage = 3.14) from a large Swiss university participated in the study.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental conditions (social
identity threat: n = 80, 40 female, vs. control condition: n = 84, 40 female). A power analysis
for a mixed-design ANOVA with four groups, a-error probability of 0.05, power (1–b-error
probability) of 0.8, and a sample size of N = 164 revealed that Study 1b was powered to find
an effect of d = 0.46.
Procedure and materials. The procedure, social identity threat manipulation, and
math test were the same as in Study 1a. We added three items to the existing social approach
motivation scales used in Study 1a assessing how frequently participants pursued particular
social approach goals with other students (using a gender-neutral labeling; e.g., “I would like
to socialize with other students”; 1 = never; 7 = very often; Nikitin & Freund, in press). In
addition, all participants answered the social approach items targeting men first. Because the
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
13
new items were gender neutral and target gender did not have an effect in Study 1a, we
computed one social approach motivation scale out of the scales targeting men and women
and the new items (α = .85; see Supplemental Material for the complete scale). In addition,
sense of belonging to the university and the students as a group was assessed with eight items
based on the membership and acceptance subscales by Good and colleagues (2012; e.g., “I
feel like I belong at university.”; “I feel related to other students.”; α = .88; see Supplemental
Material for the complete scale). As in Study 1a, we then assessed demographics including
sex, age, grade in math in the final report of high school, and native language.
Results and Discussion
We conducted a univariate ANOVA with condition and participant gender as
independent variables and social approach motivation as the dependent variable. There was
neither a main effect of condition, F(1,160) = 1.34 p = .25, nor of gender, F(1,160) = 0.02, p
= .89. The interaction between condition and gender was not significant, but there was a non-
significant trend, F(1,160) = 3.81, p = .05, d = 0.31. Independent samples t-tests showed that
while men’s social approach motivation was not influenced by the activation of negative
stereotypes about women in math (social identity threat condition: M = 5.51, SE = 0.14;
control condition: M = 5.41, SE = 0.11, t(82) = 0.56, p = .58), women’s social approach
motivation was reduced in the social identity threat condition (M = 5.28; SE = 0.13) compared
to the control condition (M = 5.67, SE = 0.11), t(78) = -2.22, p = .03, d = 0.50 (see Figure 1).
Next, we tested if women’s sense of belonging to university mediated the relationship
between experiencing social identity threat and social approach motivation. Thus, we induced
social identity threat as predictor, women’s sense of belonging as mediator, and social
approach motivation as outcome. We used Hayes Process Macro for SPSS (Model 4; Hayes,
2013) to test this prediction (see Figure 2 for a visual image of the model). Results showed no
significant relationship between condition and sense of belonging to university (p = .26), but a
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
14
significant relationship between sense of belonging and social approach motivation (0.31, SE
= 0.07, t = 4.69, p < .001, 95% CI [0.18, 0.44]).
Taken together, the results of Study 1b only partly confirmed our hypotheses. They
provided evidence that women, but not men, experienced a decrease in social approach
motivation when negative stereotypes about women were activated in an achievement
situation. However, we did not find the predicted effect of social identity threat on sense of
belonging. This might be due to the experimental setting of the study, in which men and
women were tested in mixed-gender groups. Earlier research has shown that the presence of
men (especially when they outnumber women) can induce social identity threat (e.g., Schuster
& Martiny, 2017; Sekaquaptewa & Thompson, 2003). For this reason, the women in the
present study might have felt some social identity threat even in the control condition. This
might explain the weak effects of our manipulation on sense of belonging. Study 2 was
conducted to replicate Study 1b with only female participants, so that the presence of male
participants would not activate social identity threat in the control condition.
Study 2
The aim of the second study was twofold: First, we aimed to replicate the effect of
negative performance-related stereotypes on women’s social approach motivation found in
Studies 1a and 1b. More importantly, we aimed to provide a better test of the prediction that
the relationship between stereotype activation and social approach motivation would be
mediated by sense of belonging to the university.
Method
Participants and design. One hundred female university students (Mage = 24.05 years,
SDage = 5.04) from a large Swiss university participated in the study. Participants were
randomly assigned to one of the two experimental conditions (social identity threat condition:
n = 50 vs. control condition: n = 50). A power analysis for a mixed-design ANOVA with two
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
15
groups, a-error probability of 0.05, power (1–b-error probability) of 0.8, and a sample size of
N = 100 revealed that Study 2 was powered to find an effect of d = 0.50.
Procedure and materials. The procedure, social identity manipulation, math test, and
the assessment of social approach motivation were the same as in Study 1a (for female
targets: α = .72; for male targets: α = .79). Again, approach motivation towards men was
assessed first. Sense of belonging to the university and to the students as a group was assessed
as in Study 1b (α = .91; for the complete scales see the Supplemental Material). We then
assessed demographics including sex, age, grade in math in the final report of high school,
and native language.
Results and Discussion
We followed the procedure of Study 1a and tested the prediction that the activation of
negative achievement-related stereotypes influences women’s social approach motivation. A
repeated measures ANOVA was conducted with target gender (i.e., motivation to approach
male students vs. female students) as a within-subject factor and condition (social identity
threat vs. control condition) as a between-subject factor. The main effect of target gender was
significant, F(1,98) = 32.20, p < .001, d = 1.15, indicating that participants’ social approach
motivation towards women (M = 5.83, SE = 0.75) was higher than towards men (M = 5.44, SE
= 0.95). The interaction between target gender and condition was not significant, p = .45.
Importantly, the predicted main effect of condition was significant, F(1,98) = 6.49, p = .01, d
= 0.50 (see Figure 1), indicating that participants reported lower social approach motivation in
the social identity threat condition (M = 5.43, SE = 0.11) than in the control condition (M =
5.83, SE = 0.11).
Next, we tested the prediction that the sense of belonging to university would mediate
the relationship between stereotype activation and social approach motivation. We used
Hayes (2013) Model 4 (see Figure 2). Results showed a significant effect of condition on
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
16
sense of belonging (a = -0.18, SE = 0.09, t = -2.00, p = .049, 95% CI [-0.36, -0.001]), which
in turn predicted social approach motivation (b = 0.44, SE = 0.08, t = 5.53, p < .001, 95% CI
[0.28, 0.59]). We used bootstrapping analyses to test the indirect effect (50,000 bootstrap
samples; bias-corrected 95% CI). Results showed a significant indirect effect (ab = -0.08, SE
= 0.04, 95% CI [-0.17, -0.004]). Sense of belonging fully mediated the effect of condition on
social approach motivation with a mediation effect size of R2 = 0.01, 95% CI [0.001, 0.12].
The direct effect of condition on social approach motivation was no longer significant (c’ =
-0.12, SE = 0.07, t = -1.68, p = .10). This confirmed our prediction that sense of belonging to
the university and other university students mediates the relationship between social identity
threat and social approach motivation among female university students.
In sum, the results of the second study replicated and extended the results of the first
studies. As in Study 1a and 1b, the activation of a negative performance-related stereotype
diminished female university studentsapproach motivation towards other university students.
In contrast to Study 1b, under the improved methodological conditions of this study, we
provided evidence that a reduced sense of belonging to the university mediated the
relationship between stereotype activation and reduced social approach motivation.
Study 3
The aim of the third study was to test the generalizability of the effects found in
controlled laboratory conditions in the first studies in a natural environment. We conducted a
correlational study with female psychology students to investigate whether the extent to
which students experienced social identity threat in statistics classes would predict their sense
of belonging to university and, thereby, their social approach motivation towards other
university students. Demonstrating the same relationship between social identity threat, sense
of belonging, and social approach motivation in the field would provide support for the
natural occurrence of this phenomenon.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
17
Method
Participants. One hundred thirty-five female university students (Mage = 21.23 years,
SDage = 2.68; one participant was excluded from dataset because he/she did not indicate
his/her gender) in their second semester of psychology at a large Swiss university participated
in the study. All participants had at least one semester of experience with statistics from
statistics lectures and an applied statistics lab course. A power analysis for a linear regression
with one predictor, a-error probability of 0.05, power (1–b-error probability) of 0.8, and a
sample size of N = 135 revealed that Study 3 was powered to find an effect of d = 0.12.
Measurements. The questionnaire was entitled “Math and Statistics Ability in
Psychology.For the measurement of experiencing social identity threat in statistics classes,
we adopted four items from Shapiro (2011; e.g., “I am worried that I will confirm stereotypes
about women’s math abilities in statistics classes”, see Supplemental Material for the
complete scale; M = 2.61, SE = .09, α = .68). Social approach motivation was assessed by the
same items as in Study 1a and 2. Because of time constraints, however, we did not
differentiate between female and male student targets, but used a gender-neutral wording in
each item, leading to one approach score (M = 4.73, SE = .07, α = .73). Sense of belonging
was assessed using a short version (six out of eight items) of the same measure as in Study 1b
and 2 (M = 4.50, SE = .07, α = .88). Demographics included sex and age.
Procedure. A female university student collected the data in a large introductory
lecture in motivational psychology. She informed all students collectively about the goals of
the study, the voluntary and anonymous participation, and asked only female students to
participate in the study. She then distributed the questionnaires. The completed questionnaires
were collected in a box. Participants were collectively thanked and debriefed.
Results and Discussion
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
18
In the following analyses, we used experienced social identity threat in statistic classes
as predictor, sense of belonging to university as mediator, and social approach motivation
towards other university students as the outcome. As in Study 1b and 2, we used Hayes Model
4 (2013; 50,000 bootstraps) to test the mediational model. Although the direct effect of
experienced social identity threat on social approach motivation was not significant (c = -
0.07, SE =.07, t = -1.07, p = .28), the effect of experienced social identity threat on sense of
belonging was significant (a = -0.15, SE = 0.07, t = -2.16, p = .03, 95% CI [-0.29, -0.01]),
which in turn predicted social approach motivation (b = 0.46, SE = 0.08, t = 6.09, p < .001,
95% CI [0.31, 0.62]). The indirect effect was also significant (ab = -0.07, SE = 0.03, 95% CI
[-0.15, -0.01]; see Figure 2).
The results of the third study provide further evidence for the negative relationship
between social identity threat and the motivation to approach positive social outcomes via
participants’ sense of belonging in a natural environment. Even though the direct effect of
social identity threat on female students’ social approach motivation was not significant in the
present study, we found a significant indirect effect via sense of belonging. This means that
the more female psychology students experienced social identity threat in their statistics
classes, the less they felt that they belonged to the group of students at the university. The less
they felt they belonged to university, the less motivated they were to approach other students
in order to obtain positive social outcomes. Thus, the present study adds to existing evidence
showing that social identity threat does not only occur in the lab but also has important real-
life consequences (Aronson & Dee, 2012).
General Discussion
Since Steele and Aronson’s (1995) work on the consequences of social identity threat
on performance, we know that negative stereotypes do not only affect their targets through the
discriminatory behaviors of people holding these stereotypes, but that negative stereotypes
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
19
can affect their targets even before being translated into behavior (Steele et al., 2002). Recent
studies extended this earlier research by demonstrating a broad variety of negative
consequences of experiencing social identity threat for the relationship between the person
and the relevant domain (e.g., Holleran et al., 2011; Woodcock et al., 2012). In the present
work, we add to this research by demonstrating that social identity threat can also negatively
affect relationships between the targeted person and other people related to the domain:
Results of three laboratory experiments and one correlational study provide evidence that
experiencing social identity threat can diminish people’s social approach motivation. This
negative effect of social identity threat on social approach motivation is important, as social
approach motivation is crucial for establishing and maintaining positive social relationships
(Gable, 2006), which, in turn, is essential for psychological and physical health (Umberson et
al., 2010). This is particularly true in young adulthood because establishing a personal and
professional social network is an important developmental task in this age group (Nikitin,
Schoch, & Freund, 2014). As earlier research has shown that social networks are related to
individual and group performance (e.g., Sparrowe, Liden, Wayne, & Kraimer, 2001),
impoverished social networks in academic or occupational circles might lead to a downward
spiral, hampering stereotyped individuals’ performance and work-related success. In addition,
social approach motivation also affects people’s well-being beyond young adulthood (Nikitin
et al., 2012), as involvement in positive social relationships prevents loneliness and isolation.
Loneliness and isolation are important predictors of subjective well-being and health
throughout the life span (Pinquart & Sorensen, 2001). Taken together, our research suggests
that experiencing social identity threat leads people to seek out less social interactions with
people associated with the stereotyped domain, limiting their social network in the
stereotyped domain, which can negatively affect their psychological and physical health and
general well-being (Spencer, Logel, & Davies, 2016).
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
20
The present work provides first evidence that this effect is driven by the reduced sense
of belonging to the threatened domain. People might feel “out of place” in contexts that are
associated with the threatened domain and thus feel uncomfortable approaching positive
interactions with others in these contexts. In two out of three studies, we found support for
this hypothesis. On the one hand, our findings are in line with earlier work showing
psychological disengagement from the stereotype-relevant domain after social identity threat
(Major & Schmader, 1998) and with empirical evidence that a reduced sense of belonging
diminishes cooperative and prosocial behavior (Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco, &
Bartels, 2007). On the other hand, people are often highly motivated to reconnect with others
when their belongingness is threatened (e.g., because of social exclusion; Wesselmann, Ren,
& Williams, 2015; Williams & Nida, 2011). We propose that participants in our studies were
not motivated to reconnect with others within the stereotyped domain because first, people
who experience repeated threats to their sense of belonging tend to disengage from social
relationships in order to avoid future unpleasant social interactions (Wesselmann, Williams,
Ren, & Hales, 2014). As it is likely that young women are repeatedly confronted with
negative stereotypes about their math abilities (such as in math classes; Keller, 2007; Keller &
Dauenheimer, 2003), social identity threat might reduce, not enhance, their social approach
motivation. Second, people who are socially excluded based on their permanent group
membership (such as gender) recover emotionally more slowly from social rejection than
people who are excluded based on a temporary group membership (Wirth & Williams, 2009).
Fast recovery from social exclusion, however, is needed for reconnection attempts
(Wesselmann et al., 2015). Finally, the present findings show that social identity threat leads
to lower levels of social approach motivation in the academic setting (i.e., towards other
students). We suspect that targets of social identity threat may still seek connection to people
that are not associated with the threatened domain (e.g., their families or members of their
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
21
sports team). This argumentation is in line with findings demonstrating that reduced sense of
belonging (through social exclusion) leads to motivation to socialize with new people but not
with people who are connected to the social exclusion (Maner, DeWall, Baumeister, &
Schaller, 2007). In fact, people who are connected to the social exclusion are viewed and
treated more harshly by the excluded person even when they are not directly involved in the
exclusion (Twenge et al., 2007). In the present research, we only investigated participants’
approach motivation towards other people connected to the stereotyped domain and so we do
not yet know whether social approach motivation towards people not related to the university
increases after social identity threat. Future research should investigate this question.
Thus, for the present, we can only conclude that social identity threat reduces social
approach motivation towards members of the stereotyped domain, which might not only have
negative consequences for individual well-being, but also for the success of the targeted
person in this domain (Sparrowe et al., 2001). This might also explain why female
participants in the present studies––even though they showed a strong preference to approach
women in general––did not approach female students more than male students after
experiencing social identity threat. This finding is in contrast to research showing that
discriminated groups increase their identification with the ingroup (e.g., Schmitt,
Branscombe, Kobrynowicz, & Owen, 2002). Although other female students represent
ingroup members because of their gender, they are also associated with the activated negative
stereotype because of their membership in the group of university students. It might have
been the case that the specific form of social identity threat used in the present work
highlighted female students’ membership in the group of university students instead of their
membership in the group of women (see Ethier & Deaux, 1994, for similar argumentation
regarding race). Further research should explore this in more detail.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
22
A practical implication of the present findings is that decision makers, for example at
universities and companies, should not only be informed about the negative consequences of
stereotypes on performance, but should also learn about the negative consequences of
stereotypes on interpersonal relationships. Interventions should be developed that specifically
target building up social networks for people who are negatively stereotyped in specific
domains or work settings in order to help them to establish a sense of belonging to the domain
and thus seek out positive social interactions with people related to the domain, such as fellow
students, coworkers, and other professionals.
Limitations and Future Directions
One limitation of the present set of studies is that not all predicted effects were found
in all four studies. First, the main effect of social identity threat led to a significant decrease in
social approach motivation for women in all three experimental studies (see Figure 1), but not
in the correlational study. In the correlational study, the effect of social identity threat on
social approach motivation was only found through an indirect effect via sense of belonging.
In contrast to the first three studies, in which social identity threat was manipulated, in Study
3, social identity threat was measured. There are statistical and theoretical reasons that could
explain the lack of the direct effect in Study 3. First, an indirect effect can be present even if
the total effect is not significant. This is the case when the predictor and the outcome variable
have lower power than the mediator (Rucker, Preacher, Tormala, & Petty, 2011). This is
likely to happen when the predictor and the outcome variable are only moderately reliable but
the mediator is highly reliable, as was the case in Study 3. Thus, future studies should make
sure to use similarly reliable instruments to assess the variables to rule out this statistical
argument (Rucker et al., 2011). With regard to theoretical explanations, there are two
important issues to consider. Study 3 differed from the other studies in the specific measure
(i.e., self-report of experienced social identity threat vs. manipulation of social identity
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
23
threat). In addition, the specific items of the self-report measure in Study 3 need to be
considered. In the multi-threat framework, Shapiro and Neuberg (2007) argue that social
identity threat can take various forms, depending on who the target of the threat is (oneself or
one’s group) and who the source is (oneself, outgroup members, or ingroup members). The
four items in our study measured participants’ concerns about 1) confirming the stereotypes
themselves, 2) stereotypes hindering their performance, 3) stereotypes being actually true, and
4) stereotypes influencing other people’s judgements about the participants’ own performance
(see Supplemental Material for the exact wording). Thus, in this measure, different targets and
sources were combined and included four very specific concerns. Not all of these concerns are
necessarily equally relevant for our sample in this specific situation. In addition, the
measurement is based on the assumption that participants are aware of the role negative
stereotypes play in specific achievement situations, such as in statistics classes. As we know
from earlier research, social identity threat can also affect behavior if people are not even
consciously aware that negative stereotypes have been activated (see work using a subtle
activation of stereotypes, for example, Froehlich et al., 2016). Research shows that the subtle
activation of stereotypes can induce a diffuse sense of uncertainty (e.g., Schmader & Beilock,
2012) instead of a set of specific concerns. For this reason, some of the female university
students in our study might not have been aware of the activation of negative stereotypes
about women in statistics classes. Thus, we think that our specific choice of measurement of
experienced social identity threat might have contributed to the lack of a significant
relationship between social identity threat and social approach motivation in Study 3.
The indirect effect via sense of belonging was found in two out of three studies. As
discussed earlier, one reason for this missing effect in Study 1b might be the specific testing
situation (i.e., that participants were tested in mixed-gender groups). In support of this
explanation, we found the effect when women were tested in same-gender groups. However,
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
24
it might also be the case that the social identity threat manipulation only had a weak effect on
sense of belonging and therefore did not show up in every study. For this reason, it is very
important that further research investigates the robustness of this mediation effect.
The role of sense of belonging should also be tested against possible alternative
mechanisms. Although our findings are in line with previous research demonstrating that––in
professional or academic settings––social identity threat undermines stereotyped group
members’ sense of belonging (Walton & Cohen, 2007), there are other possible mediators that
might affect social approach motivation. For example, social identity threat can lead to
negative emotions such as anxiety and shame (e.g., Schmader, Johns, & Forbes, 2008) that, in
turn, might affect social approach motivation. However, previous research has found little
support for the relationship between affect and social approach motivation. For example,
including affect as a covariate did not affect participants’ affiliation motivation in Maner et
al.’s (2007) studies on social exclusion. Moreover, individuals can develop expectations about
others’ prejudice and discrimination that are not mediated by fears about confirming
stereotypes (Mendoza-Denton, Page-Gould, & Pietrzak, 2006). Nevertheless, future research
should investigate the relationship between social identity threat, social approach motivation,
affect and other potential mediators more closely.
Further, in order to get a better understanding of the long-term consequences of social
identity threat on interpersonal relationships, further research should use longitudinal designs
and include additional dependent variables such as behavioral intentions to seek out positive
social outcomes and subsequent social behavior. There is robust empirical evidence that
approach motivation is positively associated with social behavior such as number of daily
social interactions (Gable, 2006; Nikitin et al., 2012), active behavior in social interactions
(Nikitin & Freund, 2010; Study 2), or responsiveness to social-interaction partners (Gable,
Gosnell, Maisel, & Strachman, 2012; Nikitin & Freund, in press). For example, a study by
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
25
Nikitin, Burgermeister, and Freund (2012) found that a 1-point increase on a 7-point Likert
scale assessing social approach motivation was associated with 1.39 more social interactions
during the day (the average number of daily social interactions was 5.39) or with a 0.66-point
increase on a 7-point Likert scale assessing positive social behavior during the day (i.e.,
showing positive affect, sympathy, and appraisal towards other people). In another study,
Nikitin and Freund (2010) found that students who were involved in a 5-minute videotaped
interaction with a stranger talked more than half a minute (33 seconds) longer for each 1-point
increase on a 7-point Likert scale assessing social approach motivation and they had half a
minute longer (29 seconds) eye-contact with the interaction partner while talking. In terms of
effect sizes, correlations between social approach motivation and social behavior (observed or
self-reported) are in the middle-effect size range (around r » .30; e.g., Gable, 2006) as defined
by Cohen (1988). In fact, the majority of psychological studies on individual differences show
lower effect sizes, as a recent inspection of 199 meta-analyses revealed (Gignac & Szodorai,
2016; see also Bosco, Aguinis, Singh, Field, & Pierce, 2015). Thus, robust empirical evidence
exists that social approach motivation has consequences for actual behavior in everyday-life
situations. However, it is important that future research tests whether these motivation-based
behaviors are also affected by social identity threat.
Finally, a potential weakness of our design was that the experimental manipulation
addressed the underperformance of women in university and science in the mathematical
domain, which might not have been equally relevant to all participants’ subjects (e.g.,
philosophy majors might have been less affected than math majors). As outlined earlier, we
used this manipulation because math is an important aspect of the academic self-concept in
general (as it expresses logical and abstract thinking) and, consequently, feeling threatened in
one’s math ability translates to feeling threatened as a university student in general. In fact,
the main effect of the manipulation on social approach motivation in our studies––in samples
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
26
with a broad variety of programs––supports this assumption. It is an interesting question for
future research whether the effect is even stronger in math-relevant programs (such as
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics––STEM). We speculate that this might be
the case and that this is one reason why women drop out of STEM programs (and not out of
university in general; Brandstätter, Grillich, & Farthofer, 2006; Good et al., 2012; Singh,
Allen, Scheckler, & Darlington, 2007). Female students in STEM are much more often
confronted with the negative stereotype about women and math than they are in other
university majors. If the stereotype about women’s intellectual abilities was more general,
such as the negative stereotype about African-Americans’ intelligence (e.g., Steele &
Aronson, 1995), women would probably not only drop out of STEM but out of university. As
our studies show, when women are confronted with negative stereotypes at university, this
experience reduces their sense of belonging to university and other students and thus reduces
their social approach motivation to male and female university students.
Conclusions
The present results add to the nascent area of research demonstrating that social
identity threat can have a broad variety of negative consequences. Our studies show that
social identity threat can harm peoples’ interpersonal relationships by decreasing their sense
of belonging and thereby reducing their social approach motivation. These results are
important as they point to far-reaching consequences of social identity threat on people’s
interpersonal relationships and thus on their general well-being. Only when we know how
social identity threat functions will we be able to create interventions enabling people to live
up to their full potential and to seek positive social outcomes in interpersonal interactions,
independent of their group membership.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
27
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Footnotes
1For detailed results on math performance, see the Supplemental Material. To
summarize, the experimental manipulation did not significantly affect math performance in
any of the studies. Even though this is in contrast with some previous findings (e.g., Murphy
et al., 2007; Schmader, 2002), it would go beyond the scope of the present work to discuss the
reasons for not replicating the effect on performance in depth. For our purposes, it is relevant
that math performance did not correlate with social approach motivation in any of the studies.
Thus, in the present work, social identity threat influenced people’s social motivation
irrespective of their performance in the threatened domain.
2In addition to social approach motivation, we assessed social avoidance motivation in
all present studies. There is a long-standing research tradition showing that social avoidance
motivation (i.e., the motivation to avoid negative social outcomes such as rejection, conflict,
and isolation; Gable & Berkman, 2008; Mehrabian, 1994) is also an important component of
social motivation. As social avoidance motivation was not in the focus of the present research,
we report the findings on social avoidance motivation in the Supplemental Material. Across
all studies, social avoidance motivation was unaffected by social identity threat.
3In all studies, we assessed additional variables that were not included in the present
analyses: approach and avoidance motivation towards a particular close female and male
student (Study 1a and 2), preference for spending spare time with a particular person of one’s
own choice (Study 1a and 2), mathematical self-concept (Study 1a, 1b, 2), perceived
difficulty of the math task (Study 1a, 1b, 2), motivation while working on the task (Study 1a,
1b, 2), group identification (all studies), belief in the stereotype (Study 1a, 1b, 2), participants’
hypotheses about the purpose of the study (Study 1a, 1b, 2), self-esteem (Study 1b and 3),
emotions (Study 1b), importance of close relationships (Study 2), perceived ability in math
and statistics in relation to the stereotype (Study 3), and self-concept in math and statistics
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
39
(Study 3). These variables were included for exploratory purposes or as potential control
variables but they were not substantial for our main hypotheses. Thus, we do no report them
here. Interested readers may contact us for more information on these variables.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
40
Figure 1. Effects of social identity threat on social approach motivation for women in Study
1a (N = 79), Study 1b (n = 80), and Study 2 (N = 100; error bars reflect ± 1 SE).
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Study 1a Study 1b Study 2
Social identity threat condition
Control condition
Social Approach Motivation
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THREAT ON SOCIAL MOTIVATION
41
Figure 2. Standardized regression coefficients for the mediation of social identity threat on
social approach motivation via sense of belonging. The standardized regression coefficient of
stereotype threat on social approach motivation, controlling for sense of belonging, is in
parentheses. The first numbers represent the results of Study 2 (N = 100; Hayes, 2013, Model
4). The second numbers represent the results of Study 3 (N = 135; Hayes, 2013, Model 4).
+p < .10; *p < .05; **p < .001
Social Identity Threat
Sense of
Belonging
-.18*/-.15*
.44** /.46**
-.25* (-.12+)
/-.07
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Stereotype threat is defined as a situational predicament in which individuals are at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group. It is the resulting sense that one might be judged in terms of negative stereotypes about one's group instead of on personal merit. Research over the past 15 years has shown that stereotype threat contributes to low performance among African Americans, Latinos, and the poor, but also among women in math and science, the elderly in memory, and even whites in athletics. This book examines this important topic not only at the level of basic processes and theory, but also at the level of application in the real world. It provides a contemporary and systematic treatment of research on the impact of negative stereotypes and devalued social identities on performance, engagement, sense of belonging, and self-control. This book is organized into four sections. The first section, Basic Processes, introduces definitions and conceptualizations of stereotype threat, including issues related to environmental triggers and questions of mechanism. Section two, Theoretical Extensions, explores how the initial theory has been refined to acknowledge stereotype threats (plural), how threat affects a sense of belonging, how it has implications that extend beyond the stereotyped domain, and the comparison of performance impairments due to motivational versus automated processes. Section three, Manifestations of Stereotype Threat, shows the breadth of the theory by exploring many of the different groups and performances to which the phenomenon of stereotype threat has been applied. Section four, Stereotype Threat and the Real World, examines issues of applied importance, taking a critical approach to understanding the extent to which stereotype threat has real-world consequences outside the lab. Finally, the originator of the theory, Claude Steele, provides a final essay in which he reflects upon the theory, from its origin to its implication.
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