Implicit measurement of challenge and threat as motivational responses to stereotype threat

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University of Alabama Libraries

Stereotype threat occurs when people identify with a stigmatized group and experience depressed performance on a task because they become anxious in their desire to disprove a negative stereotype (Steele, 1997). Recent research using a Biopsychosocial (BPS) model has shown that physiological responses to challenge and threat may be an important aspect to consider in understanding the underlying motivational states that influence performance (Vick, Seery, Blascovich, & Weisbuch, 2008). However, physiological data are expensive and time-consuming to collect. The primary goal of this dissertation was to determine whether an implicit cognitive measure could be used in place of physiological equipment to effectively examine motivational responses to challenge and threat. In Study 1, four modified implicit measures were explored to determine which measure would be most effective in examining underlying motivations for challenge and threat. The modified Stroop task demonstrated patterns consistent with stereotype threat effects in Study 1 and was selected for use in Study 2. In Study 2, the relation between performance on the Stroop task and physiological measures of challenge and threat was examined. Additional measures of interest in this study included: working memory, state anxiety, math abilities, and perceptions of task performance. Results indicated that there were no significant effects of stereotype threat conditions on performance on the Stroop or physiological measures. However, stereotype threat significantly influenced state anxiety and perceptions of performance.

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