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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2009 Feb;96(2):349-62. doi: 10.1037/a0012880.

Targets as perceivers: how people determine when they will be negatively stereotyped.

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Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, New York, NY 10019, USA.


Research on stereotype threat has demonstrated that when targets are forced to contend with the threat of being negatively stereotyped, their academic performance suffers (C. M. Steele & J. Aronson, 1995). The present research explored how the targets of negative stereotypes determine when they must contend with this threat. Across 5 experiments, the authors manipulated both the possibility and probability that Black and female students would be stereotyped as unintelligent prior to taking an analytical test. Collectively, these experiments showed that these students contended with stereotype threat only when they perceived that it was both possible and probable that they would be negatively stereotyped. The authors discuss the implications of these findings on the experience of being the target of negative stereotypes and on the academic achievement of Blacks and women.

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