Review of Social Psychology Book by Claude Steele

1468 WordsJul 17, 20186 Pages
Claude Steele, in his book “Whistling Vivaldi,” sheds new light on how pervasive stereotypes can influence individual’s behavior and academic performance, and how they perpetuate in different social groups. Stereotype threat, as defined by Steele, is “being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about a social group one identifies with.” (Steele, 1997) It is a general phenomenon – standard predicament of life – that springs from intersubjectivity. (p.5) We tend to spontaneously categorize and label people according to their social groups. Whenever someone is placed in a situation where a certain stereotype can be applied to themselves, they can be judged and treated accordingly. When individuals…show more content…
For example, Asian males are under the stereotype that they excel in math. When Asian males who are relatively weak at math (compared to others in the group) are exposed to such identity contingencies, they may be facing the fear of disconfirming the group’s positive stereotype and result in low performance. The pressure to perform as well as expected may create anxiety from the possibility of being the atypical subtype of the group. Also, Walton has proposed a theory of stereotype lift, which is enhancement in performance when people are exposed to negative stereotype. (Walton & Cohen, 2003) To strengthen the conclusions of the research, collecting samples across populations with varying aspects should be considered. Since stereotype threat has proven to be such a big factor affecting stereotyped individuals’ academic achievement, many researchers have turned their attention toward reducing such threats. Psychological intervention allowing minority students to become less susceptible to negative stereotypes about the group’s abilities significantly improved their performance at school for a long time. Encouraging self-affirmation allowed people to affirm their self-worth and perceive themselves as good and competent, improving their performance at school and reducing accessibility of racial stereotypes. Self-affirmation alleviated anxiety from psychological threat of

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