Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Icelandic singer-songwriter, once explained, “There is this stereotype of Icelanders all believing in spirits, and I’ve played up that a bit in interviews” (Bjork Quotes). Although Bjork has recognized that she does this, what about the individuals that subconsciously recognize a stereotype that applies to them, and then unconsciously play into it? This concept, known as stereotype threat, can adversely impact students who fit negative stereotypes. Although individuals are affected by stereotype threat in multiple situations, its role carries an especially interesting significance in the educational system. When students start changing their mindset and behavior because of stereotype threat, it can severely limit their performance.
[...] When this happens, the students who think there are low expectations for them start to perform below their abilities. Some argue that this discrepancy in performance actually results from testing that requires specific cultural knowledge, putting minorities at disadvantages. However, after using “culture free” testing methods, the performance differences still exist. This suggests that bias has nothing, or little, to do with the disadvantage, and stereotype threat is the true cause of lower test scores (Stroessner). Not only are lower levels of performance an issue with stereotype threat, but other serious consequences exist. [...]
[...] Citing a self-affirmation study involving seventh grade students, Stroessner and Good write, Although the intervention took only 15 minutes, the effects on academic performance during the semester were dramatic. As reflected in their end-of semesters GPAs, African-American students who had been led to self-affirm performed .3 grade points better during the semester than those who had (Stroessner). The relationship between family and the school plays an important role as well. Often parents instill limitations based on stereotypes, believing that they're protecting their children. [...]
[...] Similarly, the boy who was playing the role of a rumored rapist, started by suggesting that the building needed an elevator. The group turned the suggestion into a connotation that he'd be the type of person to harass women in elevators. He soon realized that he was playing the role of a bad guy, so he began giving suggestions like the inclusion of a liquor store in the building. The popular guy started off slow, mostly just agreeing or disagreeing with other ideas. [...]
[...] For example, one person was playing the role of a girl who grew up in a rich family and the others were supposed to treat her like she was spoiled and lazy. Another was a popular, well-dressed boy and the others were told to be impressed by his ideas and excited to be talking with him. One boy had a card that said there were rumors he'd been in jail last year for raping a girl, so the others were supposed to be mean or scared of him. [...]
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