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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Feb;88(2):276-87.

Clearing the air: identity safety moderates the effects of stereotype threat on women's leadership aspirations.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 4643 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.


Exposing participants to gender-stereotypic TV commercials designed to elicit the female stereotype, the present research explored whether vulnerability to stereotype threat could persuade women to avoid leadership roles in favor of nonthreatening subordinate roles. Study 1 confirmed that exposure to the stereotypic commercials undermined women's aspirations on a subsequent leadership task. Study 2 established that varying the identity safety of the leadership task moderated whether activation of the female stereotype mediated the effect of the commercials on women's aspirations. Creating an identity-safe environment eliminated vulnerability to stereotype threat despite exposure to threatening situational cues that primed stigmatized social identities and their corresponding stereotypes.

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