Friday, August 8, 2008

Choking, panic and Stereotype threats

"Steele and others have found stereotype threat at work in any situation where groups are depicted in negative ways. Give a group of qualified women a math test and tell them it will measure their quantitative ability and they'll do much worse than equally skilled men will; present the same test simply as a research tool and they'll do just as well as the men.

Or consider a handful of experiments conducted by one of Steele's former graduate students, Julio Garcia, a professor at Tufts University. Garcia gathered together a group of white, athletic students and had a white instructor lead them through a series of physical tests: to jump as high as they could, to do a standing broad jump, and to see how many pushups they could do in twenty seconds.

The instructor then asked them to do the tests a second time, and, as you'd expect, Garcia found that the students did a little better on each of the tasks the second time around.

Then Garcia ran a second group of students through the tests, this time replacing the instructor between the first and second trials with an African-American.

Now the white students ceased to improve on their vertical leaps.

He did the experiment again, only this time he replaced the white instructor with a black instructor who was much taller and heavier than the previous black instructor.

In this trial, the white students actually jumped less high than they had the first time around. Their performance on the pushups, though, was unchanged in each of the conditions. There is no stereotype, after all, that suggests that whites can't do as many pushups as blacks. The task that was affected was the vertical leap, because of what our culture says: white men can't jump."

Oh man.... look at the power of stereotype.... O_Ob I can't say it doesn't affect me, now it's how do I remove it?

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