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J Psychopharmacol. 2006 Jul;20(4):518-25. Epub 2005 Sep 20.

The effects of stereotype threat on cognitive function in ecstasy users.

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Psychology Department, Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK.


Stereotype threat occurs when individuals, believed to be intellectually inferior, perform badly on cognitive tests they perceive to confirm stereotypes about them. Due to the wide media coverage of studies purporting to show cognitive deficits in ecstasy users it is possible that they experience stereotype threat. This study tested ecstasy and non-ecstasy using polysubstance misusers on a variety of cognitive tests after they had been exposed to stereotype threat. This priming consisted of exposing them to information about the long-term effects of ecstasy which either stated that ecstasy caused memory loss or that it did not. Ecstasy users that had been primed that ecstasy did not cause cognitive deficits performed better than the other three groups on the delayed portion of the prose recall task from the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test battery. There were no other statistically significant differences between any of the groups on any of the other cognitive tests used. This suggests that stereotype threat exists in ecstasy users and may be influencing their performance in experiments designed to identify cognitive deficits. In order to prevent this occurring in future studies, experimenters must be careful how they conduct their experiments and discuss their results with the media.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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