Stereotypes Have Profound Effect on Intellectual Test Performance

Article excerpt

NEW HAVEN, CONN.

Yale researchers have found that the existence of negative stereotypes about abilities such as intelligence actually enhances the performance of those who do not bear the stereotype.

There have been many studies about how pervasive negative stereotypes about racial minorities and women can affect the performance of those targeted by such stereotypes.

"We were interested in whether these stereotypes also affect people they don't target, or the reverse phenomenon," says Gregory Walton, a graduate student in the psychology department at Yale and co-author of the study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

"Our evidence suggests that 'stereotype lift' improves the performance of White men on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) by, on average, 50 points - a performance boost that at the most selective colleges could make the difference between rejection and acceptance," Walton says. "Stereotype-inspired social comparisons may help alleviate the self-doubt, anxiety and fear of rejection that otherwise hamper performance on important intellectual tests."

Walton and his co-author, Dr. …