Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Negative stereotypes shown to affect learning, not just performance

27.07.2010
Negative stereotypes not only jeopardize how members of stigmatized groups might perform on tests and in other skill-based acts, such as driving and golf putting, but they also can inhibit actual learning, according to a new study by Indiana University researchers.

While the effect of negative performance stereotypes on test-taking and in other domains is well documented, the study by social psychologist Robert J. Rydell and his colleagues in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is the first to show that the effects might also be seen further upstream than once thought, when the skills are learned, not just performed.

"The effect on learning could be cumulative," says Rydell, whose research focuses on stereotype threat involving women and mathematics. "If women do not learn relatively simple skills early on, this could spell trouble for them later on when they need to combine a number of more simple skills in new, complicated ways to solve difficult problems. For example, if a young girl does not learn a relatively simple principle of algebra or how to divide fractions because she is experiencing threat, this may hurt her when she has to use those skills to complete problems on geometry, trigonometry, or calculus tests."

This reduced learning may ultimately hamper efforts to help women enter into careers in science and mathematics, where they are currently underrepresented.

The study, "Stereotype threat prevents perceptual learning," was published on Monday (July 26), in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. Co-authors are Richard M. Shiffrin, Kathryn L. Boucher, Katie Van Loo and Michael T. Rydell, all from IU.

The study was designed to examine "attention and perceptual learning in a visual search," not mathematical learning specifically, because the tasks used in the experiments allowed researchers to easily differentiate between learning effects and performance effects. Through a series of experiments involving Chinese characters and color judgment tasks, the researchers were able to show that actual learning had not occurred in the group of women who had been reminded of the negative stereotypes involving women's math and visual processing ability. Instead of finding it difficult to express learning, which is a typical effect of stereotype threat, they had not learned the same skill that women in the control group, who had not been exposed to the negative stereotypes, had learned.

The women in the stereotype threat group appeared to try too hard to overcome the negative stereotype, ultimately searching for the characters in the experiment in a focused yet unproductive manner rather than letting the figures just "pop out," as they normally would have after some training.

"The results seem to fit with the view that the women under threat try harder to carry out the task, thereby persisting in effortful serial search throughout training, and failing to find and learn an alternative strategy that makes search easier and less effortful," the authors wrote.

"Women who are good at the skill they are performing are more likely to show stereotype threat because they have more invested in disproving the stereotype and are more distracted by the stereotype," Rydell said.

Rydell said he and his colleagues have conducted additional research specifically on mathematical learning and the results are forthcoming. They think the effect of stereotype threat on learning warrants more study by scientists and more attention by educators.

"(The present study) points to the importance of creating environments that reduce the impact of stereotype threat during mathematical skill acquisition by women," the authors concluded in their PNAS article. "If creating such an environment is not done, the learning deficits that result could well be cumulative, causing problems that continually worsen as development proceeds."

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation. The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is within IU's College of Arts and Sciences.

To speak with Rydell, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and traljame@indiana.edu. Eurekalert members can obtain a copy of the study at http://www.eurekalert.org/pio/pnas.php. A copy can be obtained by contacting PNASnews@nas.edu one soon will be available at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1002815107.

Tracy James | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.indiana.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>