Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Margaret Rogers

Abstract

Women underperform on math tasks in comparison to men when they are in a situation that is high in stereotype threat. Stereotype threat intervention research has found several methods for improving performance, such as allowing the female participants to attribute potential failure to an external source. This study replicated the results of a teaching intervention study that consisted of informing participants about stereotype threat, and asked that they attribute any performance-related anxiety to stereotype threat. All study participants were women. In order to make the stereotype threat message more salient, participants learned about the concept and theory by watching a video of Claude Steele discussing his research. The study additionally examined the attributions made for performance on the math test using the Causal Dimension Scale II. All participants were debriefed at the end of the study. The results revealed no significant differences were found between the math test performances of the participants who were taught about stereotype threat and those who were not, F(7, 91) = .45, p = .87, partial eta squared= .03, = Wilk's Lambda = .97. The study did not show significant differences between groups on the Causal Dimension Scale II, a scale which measures attributions made for success or failure on a task, F(4, 95) = .40, p = .30, partial eta squared= .013, Wilk's Lambda= .99. This study also looked at factors such as self-efficacy and perceived faculty support. Predictive relationships were examined by looking at treatment condition, self-efficacy, and perceived faculty support to see if these individual variables predict math test performance. Perceived faculty support did not predict math test scores, F(1, 98) = .10, p = .90, self-efficacy did not predict math test scores, F(1, 98) = .11, p = .92, and treatment condition did not predict math test performance, F(1, 98) = .21, p = .99. This study also examined potential interaction effects between self-efficacy with perceived faculty support and also self-efficacy with internal attributions in order to examine if they predict math test performance. Results indicated that these factors were not predictive of performance on the math test. Interaction effects were not significant resulting in self-efficacy and perceived faculty support not interacting to predict math test performance, F(3, 96) = .09, p = .97 and self-efficacy and internal attributions did not interact to predict math test performance, F(3, 96) = .268, p = .849. Finally, this study examined if participants were able to retain the central message associated with stereotype threat theory one week after completing the study. Results demonstrated that the majority of the participants were able to retain the message after completing the study, as participants in this group were able to obtain 77% of the questions correct. Future stereotype threat research may need to focus on examining interventions that buffer participants from stereotype threat effects and remain beneficial to the participant even after they have left the study. If we aim to end the disidentification of women within the domains of math and science, we need to examine effective interventions that potentially have long-term effects.

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