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Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat situations occur when one is in jeopardy of confirming a negative self-referent stereotype in an achievement context. Often, preoccupation with a threat results in dampened performance, and repeated threat situations theoretically can lead to disassociation from the relevant domain. The effects of stereotype threat may exacerbate the aptitude-performance gap and relatively lower attainment observed among African Americans in intellectual domains and U.S. women in math and science domains, for example. Thus, unmitigated stereotype threat can interfere with the development and expression of talent, particularly the talent of underrepresented group members. However, educators can take steps to prevent stereotype threat from affecting performance, as described in this entry.

The first description and studies of stereotype threat came from Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson who were ...

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