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Many stereotypes exist about the academic performance of learners based on characteristics such as their race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Stereotype Threat research suggests that people can underperform in many academic areas, including math, when faced with the prospect of being judged based on these stereotypes.
Stereotype Threat occurs when a negative stereotype that exists in a culture about a group results in suboptimal performance by members of that group. This can impact performance even when the learner does not personally experience prejudiced behavior toward them by teachers or peers. The effect is particularly strong on tests where students are told the test is diagnostic of their intellectual abilities. Even individuals who do not believe the stereotype is true about their group will often still experience the negative effects of Stereotype Threat.
People can hold two types of stereotypes:
Stereotype Threat impacts math performance for multiple groups:
Students' awareness of stereotypes about different groups increases with age, and students who are from groups that are subject to negative academic stereotypes are even more aware of those stereotypes than students from non-stereotyped groups.