Competition in stereotyped domains: Competition, social comparison, and stereotype threat

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Abstract

The current work examines a novel and specific way in which competition can hurt the performance of negatively stereotyped individuals: by evoking stereotype threat. In four experiments, we demonstrate that women's underperformance in math when primed with competition was due to feeling worried about confirming negative stereotypes about women's math ability (i.e., stereotype threat), that the activation of negative performance stereotypes for women primed with competition was due to increased group-level social comparisons (i.e., comparing the self with men and women), and that priming competition led men to perform more poorly than women in a domain where they are negatively stereotyped (i.e., verbal ability). This research suggests that priming people with competition in contexts where they are negatively stereotyped leads to greater social comparison, activation of negative stereotypes, and concern about confirming these stereotypes, thereby decreasing stereotyped individuals' performance in the stereotyped domain. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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