Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Method Aronson Haslam I 254
Method/stereotype threat/Aronson, Joshua/Steele: (…) research on stereotype threat, beginning with the original paper by Steele and Aronson (1995), has not been without critique. One aspect of that critique relates to how the original research has been described in media outlets, textbooks, and by scientists directly. In their studies, Steele and Aronson covaried out participants’ prior performance on high-stakes standardized tests as assessed with their self-reported SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) scores. This covariate analysis increases the power to detect the effect of a manipulation in the context of individual variation. However, critics have argued that this statistical caveat is too often lost in the retelling of the findings, leading people to report that the threat-free environment eliminates the racial gap in test performance (Sackett et al., 2004(1); Wicherts, 2005(2)). 1. VsAronson, Joshua/VsSteele: The problem with this conclusion is that by controlling for SAT, the authors have removed a portion of group performance differences and we simply do not know if stereotype threat or other factors led to this gap in the first place. A similar critique was lodged against Spencer et al.’s (1999)(3) research demonstrating stereotype threat impairments on highly identified women’s math performance (Stoet and Geary, 2012)(4).
2. VsAronson/VsSteele: Through the current lens of replicability, readers are increasingly skeptical of findings based on small sample sizes and effects that might seem to rely on the use of covariate analysis (Fraley and Vazire, 2014(5); Simonsohn et al., 2014(6)).

1. Sackett, P.R., Hardison, C.M. and Cullen, M.J. (2004) 10n interpreting stereotype threat as accounting for African American—White differences on cognitive tests’, American Psychologist, 59: 7—13.
2. Wicherts, J.M. (2005) 1Stereotype threat research and the assumptions underlying analysis of covariance, American Psychologist, 60 (3): 267—69.
3. Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M. and Quinn, D.M. (1999) ‘Stereotype threat and women’s math performance’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35:4—28.
4. Stoet, G. and Geary, D.C. (2012) ‘Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement?’, Review of General Psychology, 16:93—102.
5. Fraley, R.C. and Vazire, S. (2014) The N-pact factor: Evaluating the quality of empirical journals with respect to sample size and statistical power’, PLoS ONE, 9: e109019.
6. Simonsohn, U., Nelson, L.D. and Simmons, J.P. (2014) 4p-Curve and effect size correcting for publication bias using only significant results’, Perspectives on Psychological Science,
9 (6): 666—8 1.

Toni Schmader and Chad Forbes, “Stereotypes and Performance. Revisiting Steele and Aronson’s stereotypes threat experiments”, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications

Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017