Write about the Stereotype Threat for Standard Intellectual and Cognitive Assessment.
Stereotype threat is a term used for its first time by Steel and Aronson (1995) in their theory or study which sought to provide an understanding of African American performance on standardized tests. They defined stereotype threat as a risk of confirming, as a self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s social group. It may also be termed as a situation in which an individual may feel that they might be judged negatively because of a stereotype (Moss, 2016). Lastly, stereotype threat may also define as a risk of conforming to negative stereotypes with regard to an individual’s gender, racial, ethnic or affiliation to a cultural group. Research has shown that stereotype threat has had some adverse effects such as decreased performance in academic and non – academic grounds (Tagler, 2012). It has also led to increased use of self-defeating behaviors, disengagements in different activities and alteration of professional aspirations. This essay will, therefore, focus on providing an understanding of the role that stereotype threat may play in standard intellectual and cognitive assessment.
The Role Played by Stereotype Threat in Standard Intellectual and Cognitive Assessment
To understand the role played by stereotype threat in intellectual and cognitive assessment, we need first to understand the terms or the concepts of both standard intellectual and cognitive assessment. According to a research by Williams (2016), a child psychology website, cognitive assessment refers to designed tests which have been standardized to examine the learning capability of a child or an individual by identifying the weaknesses and cognitive strengths. The assessment is administered by the use of standardized psychometric tools such as verbal communication and perceptual reasoning. Standard intellectual on the other side it’s a concept that allows individuals to make decisions and rational commands for their cognitive processes in order to decide on what is good or bad for them or what they need to accept or reject according to Sparks (2016). It can also be referred to as the standards for thoughts or human thinking and help us determine how best is it to live our lives.
The role played by stereotype threat in standard intellectual and cognitive assessment can, therefore, be examined by analyzing some situations where stereotype threats have been used. For example, according to research by Steel and Aronson (1995), the results showed that performance in academic contexts can be greatly be affected by the common belief and awareness that one’s behavior might be viewed or judged through eyes or grounds of racial stereotypes (MacInnis, & Hodson, 2012). Therefore, it implies that stereotype threats contribute greatly to poor performance among students or groups or any individual who may be characterized by some ideologies or prejudices of stereotypes. Everyone is vulnerable to these effects simply because we belong to at least one of these groups.
The fear of students to confirm their identity and sense of belonging to a certain race or gender has had negative impacts on their classroom performance. Research has shown that African American students have continued to fail or perform poorly as compared to their white peers in fields of mathematics and science (Massey & Fischer, 2005). Gender identity has also posed a stereotype threat to women and their performance in mathematics and results from research showed that women relatively perform poorly in mathematics tests as compared to men (Elder, & Paul, 2013). Although this has recently been challenged, women nowadays perform better in mathematics and science tests on average than men.
The major factors which play a role in stereotype vulnerability include; group membership and identification, domain identification and internal locus of control or proactive personality as well as stereotype knowledge of belief (Aronson, 2012). It proves stereotype belief to be situational and hence leading to decreased student performance and played a major role in undermining women identity in the society. Cervone, Shadel, & Jenciu (2012) explained that the environmental factors specifically place more emphasis on parents and teachers as the main contributors of gender-related math attitudes by women and ladies. Stereotype threat has also played a major role in the internalization of inferior anxiety among students. Research has shown that these students end up blaming others for their misfortunes, conditions or even their problems (Clark, 201). They also form to themselves a victim identity and may have less control of the situations surrounding themselves. For example, if a student fails a math test she may attribute her failure to the fact that women don’t perform well in math tests.
Standard intellectual as seen from above definition forms the basis decision making among individuals with regard to what is good for them and what they need to accept or reject. Research has shown that in situations where decisions have to be made under threat, the process is usually dominated or influenced by fear and not by logic or any rational consideration. On the other hand, effective decision making can only be achieved when both emotions and logic are used together in the process (Beasley & Fischer, 2012). Therefore stereotype threats influence and undermine the process of decision making, which may then leads to regrets to the individuals involved and other psychological problems.
Research has also shown that stereotypes threats not only affect the performance of individuals but also their process of learning (Rydel & Boucher, 2010). The results were based on the idea that women believe in the stereotype that they are deficient in mathematics. Whereas there are other women who are not and therefore the beliefs deteriorate their capacity to learn. There is, therefore, a great need of self-affirmation and presentation of role models to help women conquer the effects of this belief (stout et al. 2011). Supporting this idea the fact that seeing or been taught by a successful in-group member who conquered relieves the burden or the weight of representing women personally.
Stereotype threats have also played a major role in increasing mental exhaustion and burnout levels among the individuals affected (Hall, Schmader, & Croft, 2015). The threat, therefore, results in feelings of social identity threat where individuals think that their social identity is influenced by their social interaction with other people. The individuals end up living in pressure and tendencies of wanting to demonstrate their capabilities with intentions of impressing someone else at the expense of their personal intuitions. In the process of doing so, they lose mental energy and hence increase the likelihood of burnout.
On the other hand, positive stereotype threats have shown to boost or lift performance for dominant groups by the virtue of relative advantage of one’s own group over another according to Beasley and Fischer (2012). It, therefore, plays an important role in helping those in high domain identification or the dominant group in improving their performance. When individual embrace self-affirmation mechanisms then they build or construct positive strengths and may use the situational stereotype threats to build their confidence and conquer the stereotypes. Individuals affirm their self-worth through self-affirmation, which can be achieved by encouraging individuals to focus on things or values they consider or view important. They may focus on skill development, their personal values or engage in roles which boosting their performance.
There is also evidence that stereotype threat contributes to reduced creativity, flexibility, and speed. Individuals experiencing threat may tend to focus on higher performance and enhanced critical thinking in order to mitigate their problems. Individuals under such condition are said to be in a state of vigilance, a condition which kills creativity, openness, flexibility and speed (Serbt and Foster, 2004). Research has also shown that these stereotype threats reduce self-control among individuals (Aronson, Burgess, Phelan, & Juarez, 2013). Implying that, individuals find it difficult or are totally unable to direct their attention or efforts and behaviors in purposeful ways. The behavior is a resultant of fear of been judged when he or she makes a mistake based or ethnicity and gender stereotypes. Therefore the individuals can only sit back and relax or engage in minor activities where they feel secure and socially acceptable.
Research has also shown that the strength of the stereotype in most cases depends on the task is framed especially in performing cognitive assessments (Aronson et al., 2013). A neutral task will always present a less or unlikely probability of stereotype threat as compared to tasks which are framed in terms of active stereotypes where individuals perform so poorly in them. In the long run continued stereotype threat can lead to the mental health of an individual. When an individual experience continued discrimination associated with a threat in any social group, they become depressed and hence affect their mental health in the long run.
From the research above, stereotype threat has been associated with negative implications. An individual cognitive development is very important and such threats hinder their development. Stereotypes threats have hence played a major role in promoting ethnic and racial gaps, decreasing students’ performance in the classroom; affect work performance in working environments, disengagements and self-defeating behaviors. There is also a gap in explaining the prevalence of stereotype threats among different age groups. Parents, teachers and the society form the main environments of exercising these threats; they should advocate the use of positive stereotype threats in promoting individual behaviors and enhancing performance. Cognitive assessment tests should be designed in a way to enhance performance and not promote stereotype threats.
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