Examining the Role of Anxiety Avoidance in the Effect of Stereotype Threat on Working Memory Capacity

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/193569
Title:
Examining the Role of Anxiety Avoidance in the Effect of Stereotype Threat on Working Memory Capacity
Author:
Johns, Michael
Issue Date:
2005
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Describing a test as a measure of an ability certain groups are stereotyped to lack can hurt the performance of members of those groups. Steele and his colleagues call this effect stereotype threat (1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Steele, Spencer, & Aronson, 2002). Now well established, less is known about how stereotype threat reduces performance. The studies described in this dissertation were designed to follow up on past research showing that stereotype threat reduces performance by constraining working memory (Schmader & Johns, 2003). The primary hypothesis is that people experiencing stereotype threat devote cognitive resources that would normally be used for task performance to trying to avoid feelings of anxiety. In the first study, women completed an implicit reaction time measure of anxiety and a measure of working memory capacity under stereotype threat or non-stereotype threat conditions. The implicit measure was described as either related or unrelated to anxiety. The results revealed that women under stereotype threat showed evidence of increased anxiety when the implicit measure was described in neutral terms. However women in this condition showed evidence of anxiety avoidance when it was described as a measure of anxiety. Performance on the implicit measure was also correlated with stereotype threat-induced reductions in working memory. The second study tested whether eliminating the need to avoid feeling anxious would increase working memory. Caucasian and Latino participants completed the same implicit measure and working memory task under conditions that have been shown to create stereotype threat for Latinos. Half the participants were told that anxiety would not harm their performance on an intelligence test and the remaining participants were not given any information about the effect of anxiety on performance. The results showed that informing Latino participants that anxiety would not harm performance reduced anxiety avoidance on the implicit measure and also improved their working memory. However, anxiety avoidance was not correlated with working memory reductions. The results of these studies provide evidence that anxiety avoidance might be one factor that contributes to the effect of stereotype threat on test performance. Limitations of these studies and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Psychology
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Psychology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Schmader, Toni
Committee Chair:
Schmader, Toni

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleExamining the Role of Anxiety Avoidance in the Effect of Stereotype Threat on Working Memory Capacityen_US
dc.creatorJohns, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.authorJohns, Michaelen_US
dc.date.issued2005en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractDescribing a test as a measure of an ability certain groups are stereotyped to lack can hurt the performance of members of those groups. Steele and his colleagues call this effect stereotype threat (1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Steele, Spencer, & Aronson, 2002). Now well established, less is known about how stereotype threat reduces performance. The studies described in this dissertation were designed to follow up on past research showing that stereotype threat reduces performance by constraining working memory (Schmader & Johns, 2003). The primary hypothesis is that people experiencing stereotype threat devote cognitive resources that would normally be used for task performance to trying to avoid feelings of anxiety. In the first study, women completed an implicit reaction time measure of anxiety and a measure of working memory capacity under stereotype threat or non-stereotype threat conditions. The implicit measure was described as either related or unrelated to anxiety. The results revealed that women under stereotype threat showed evidence of increased anxiety when the implicit measure was described in neutral terms. However women in this condition showed evidence of anxiety avoidance when it was described as a measure of anxiety. Performance on the implicit measure was also correlated with stereotype threat-induced reductions in working memory. The second study tested whether eliminating the need to avoid feeling anxious would increase working memory. Caucasian and Latino participants completed the same implicit measure and working memory task under conditions that have been shown to create stereotype threat for Latinos. Half the participants were told that anxiety would not harm their performance on an intelligence test and the remaining participants were not given any information about the effect of anxiety on performance. The results showed that informing Latino participants that anxiety would not harm performance reduced anxiety avoidance on the implicit measure and also improved their working memory. However, anxiety avoidance was not correlated with working memory reductions. The results of these studies provide evidence that anxiety avoidance might be one factor that contributes to the effect of stereotype threat on test performance. Limitations of these studies and suggestions for future research are discussed.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectPsychologyen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplinePsychologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorSchmader, Tonien_US
dc.contributor.chairSchmader, Tonien_US
dc.contributor.committeememberStone, Jeffen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGreenberg, Jeffen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSechrest, Leeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMcKnight, Patricken_US
dc.identifier.proquest1215en_US
dc.identifier.oclc137354417en_US
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