Effects of Stereotype Threat on Low-Income Individuals
Sergeant, Kristin Rebecca
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Research has found that stereotype threat can have a significant negative impact on the performance of stigmatized individuals. This study sought to determine the relationship between stereotype threat, self-efficacy, and subjective social status as they relate to a community sample of low-income adults. Few studies have expanded the study of stereotype threat to low-income populations or examined the relationship between stereotype threat and self-efficacy. In addition, few studies have utilized a subjective social status measure or categorized individuals as low-income based on federal guidelines. Participants were 120, male and female, Caucasian, adults who were between the ages of 25 and 45 and recruited from the Phoenix metro area. They completed the following: demographic questionnaire, objective social class questionnaire, Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM; Raven, Raven, & Court, 1998), New General Self-Efficacy Scale (NGSE; Chen, Gully, & Eden, 2001), and MacArthur Scale of Subjective Social Status (MSSS; Adler, Epel, Castellazzo, & Ickovics, 2000). Hypotheses were: 1) Low-income participants would perform less well and report less post-task self-efficacy, as compared to low-income participants in non-diagnostic condition and non-low income participants in the diagnostic and non-diagnostic conditions, when APM was presented as diagnostic of intelligence; 2) Low income participants would perform less well and report less post-task self-efficacy, as compared to low-income participants in the non-salient condition and non-low income participants in the salient or non-salient conditions, when subjective social status was made salient prior to the task; and 3) Low-income participants will perform less well and report less post-task self-efficacy, as compared low-income and non-low income participants in any other condition, when APM was presented as diagnostic of intelligence and subjective social status was made salient prior to APM. Results for hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 were not supported. However, there were significant differences between low-income and non-low income participants' APM scores and reported post-task self-efficacy. It is possible that stereotype threat was not adequately induced or factors related to testing site and design of the study may have actually lessened the effects of stereotype threat. Summary and interpretation of findings, strengths and limitations, and directions for future research are provided.