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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Elaine Blakemore

Department/Program

Department of Psychology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract

This project, which is my honors thesis, is designed to better understand the reason behind the difference in math performance based on gender on standardized tests, such as the GRE. Research has shown that typically men out perform women on standardized math tests, which may be due to stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is a phenomenon that hinders performance in a group that is expected to perform more poorly. In this case, females are often stereotyped as poorer in math, so it is expected that they would perform worse than men on the same math task.

One method of reducing the effects of stereotype threat is to introduce another role that is on the positive side of the stereotype, in this case college student. College students are generally expected to be better at math than those who didn’t attend college. Some research has found a buffering effect of self-esteem on math performance when the other role is present. However, this has only been studied in women. Therefore, my project will look at both men and women’s performance on a math task under five different conditions related to stereotype threat, and a parallel process called stereotype lift (where the group stereotyped as better – in this case men – have higher performance when the stereotype is highlighted). While the research is still on-going, I believe that a relationship between gender, condition, and self-esteem will be shown. That is, women with high self-esteem will perform higher in the condition where they have a chance to identify with the college student role. Because there is no data on male performance related to self-esteem, those results will be strictly exploratory.

Disciplines

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Stereotype Threat and Math Performance: The Role of Self-Esteem and Gender

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