Advertisement

The Embodied Harm of Stereotype Threat

  • Lauren Freeman
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter draws from phenomenology and social psychology to describe and explain what can happen to students of underrepresented groups in educational settings with an eye toward understanding the embodied dimension of the harms that they can suffer. It does so by describing what can happen when students experience stereotype threat (ST). ST occurs when environmental cues make salient to a person the negative stereotypes associated with their group, thereby triggering physiological and psychological processes that have detrimental consequences for their performance on certain tasks, on their behavior more generally, and on their self-understanding. The chapter makes the claim, contrary to what was originally thought within the ST literature, that the harms that result from ST don’t just cease when students leave classrooms, but rather become a background horizon against which they experience themselves in the world. This contribution begins to develop the larger negative implications that ST can have, specifically in its embodied dimension.

References

  1. Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2004). The ups and downs of attributional ambiguity: Stereotype vulnerability and the academic selfknowledge of African American college students. Psychological Science, 15(12), 829–836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blum, L. (2016). The too minimal political, moral, and civic dimension of Claude Steele’s “stereotype threat” paradigm. In M. Brownstein & J. Saul (Eds.), Implicit bias and philosophy: Moral responsibility, structural injustice, and ethics (vol. 2, pp. 147–172). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Croizet, J., & Claire, T. (1998). Extending the concept of stereotype threat to social class: The intellectual underperformance of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(6), 588–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Davies, P. G., Spencer, S. J., Quinn, D. M., & Gerhardstein, R. (2002). Consuming images: How television commercials that elicit stereotype threat can restrain women academically and professionally. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(12), 1615–1628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Freeman, L. (2015). Phenomenology of racial oppression. Knowledge Cultures, 3(1), 7–28.Google Scholar
  6. Freeman, L. (2018). Embodied harm: A Phenomenological engagement with stereotype threat. Human Studies. Forthcoming.Google Scholar
  7. Goguen, S. (2016). Stereotype threat, epistemic injustice, and rationality. In M. Brownstein & J. Saul (Eds.), Implicit bias and philosophy: Moral responsibility, structural injustice, and ethics (Vol. 2, pp. 216–237). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Good, C., Dweck, C. S., & Rattan, A. (2008). The effects of perceiving fixed-ability environments and stereotyping on women’s sense of belonging to math. Unpublished manuscript, Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  9. McKinnon, R. (2014). Stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity for trans women. Hypatia, 29(4), 857–872.Google Scholar
  10. Mrazek, M. D., Chin, J. M., Schmader, T., Hartson, K. A., Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. (2011). Threatened to distraction: Mindwandering as a consequence of stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(6), 1243–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nussbaum, A. D., & Steele, C. (2007). Situational disengagement and persistence in the face of adversity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rydell, R. J., Shiffrin, R. M., Boucher, K. L., Van Loo, K., & Rydell, M. T. (2010). Stereotype threat prevents perceptual learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(32), 14042–14047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Schmader, T., Johns, M., & Barquissau, M. (2004). The costs of accepting gender differences: The role of stereotype endorsement in women’s experience in the math domain. Sex Roles, 50, 835–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M., & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35(1), 4–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Steele, C. M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: And other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  17. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief socialbelonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331(6023), 1447–1451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Williams, A. M., Jurcevic, I., & Shapiro, J. (2013). “Stereotype Threat.” Oxford Bibliographies.Google Scholar

Related Further Reading

  1. Freeman, L. (2014). Creating safe spaces: Strategies for confronting implicit and explicit bias and stereotype threat in the classroom. APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, 13(2), 3–12.Google Scholar
  2. Greenwald, A., & Banaji, M. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes. Psychological Review, 102(1), 4–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Haslanger, S. (2014). Studying while black: Trust, opportunity and disrespect. Du Bois Review, 11(1), 109–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Johns, M., Schmader, T., & Martens, A. (2005). Knowing is half the battle: Teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance. Psychological Science, 16, 175–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations