Twenty years of stereotype threat research: A review of psychological mediators

Charlotte Pennington*, Derek Heim, Andrew R Levy, Derek Larkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

This systematic literature review appraises critically the mediating variables of stereotype threat. A bibliographic search was conducted across electronic databases between 1995 and 2015. The search identified 45 experiments from 38 articles and 17 unique proposed mediators that were categorized into affective/subjective (n = 6), cognitive (n = 7) and motivational mechanisms (n = 4). Empirical support was accrued for mediators such as anxiety, negative thinking, and mind-wandering, which are suggested to co-opt working memory resources under stereotype threat. Other research points to the assertion that stereotype threatened individuals may be motivated to disconfirm negative stereotypes, which can have a paradoxical effect of hampering performance. However, stereotype threat appears to affect diverse social groups in different ways, with no one mediator providing unequivocal empirical support. Underpinned by the multi-threat framework, the discussion postulates that different forms of stereotype threat may be mediated by distinct mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0146487
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 Pennington et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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