Diss-ability

Stereotype threat is defined as a reduction in performance somehow caused by a negative stereotype held by other people. They doubt that you can do it, and that makes you anxious and hinders your ability. At least that’s the theory. This can’t just be something that happens with high-stakes tests like the SAT, since the SAT predicts academic achievement just as well in groups with low average scores as it does in other groups. Groups with low average scores on standardized test also do poorly in their course work. No, stereotype threat must be a factor in every test, every problem set. Like Judge Lynch, stereotype threat never sleeps.

Why would such a tendency have evolved? What advantage would accrue from being diss-able? Against, we’re not talking about occasional nervousness – this involves long-term reduction of abilities. Does it go both ways (before crossing the street!)? Can everyone do it? If I said “You’re not so much” to a famous science fiction writer, would he be shaken to his foundations? Could civilization slip into a death-spiral of incompetence if everyone started doubting everyone else?

Personally, I have sometimes reacted to doubts directed me by actually trying harder, often successfully – ” I’ll show you, you son-of-a-bitch!”. Evidently that reaction is rare, maybe even pathological. Definitely UnAmerican.

Maybe it’s like the evil eye: only certain people have the ability. In fact, maybe it is the evil eye. When you take a look at it, the two ideas are extremely similar, and may just be different labels for the same phenomenon. Note that babies and young children are thought to be especially vulnerable to the evil eye, which could explain why the test score gap is in place by age three. It may be that northern Europeans are especially gifted in this respect. In areas where light-colored eyes are rare, such as the Aegean, people with blue or green eyes (especially blue) are thought to bestow the curse. As a Greek professional artist working at MIT said recently, “The blue eyes cause miasmata.” This could also explain selective sweeps of gene variants causing striking eye colors in Europeans – an increase in reproductive fitness flowing from a ability to curse others makes sense. More than sexual selection, anyhow.

So it’s not so much that diss-ability is a product of natural selection, more that the evil eye is.

If we can show that ‘stereotype threat’ really is the evil eye, we can immediately begin to counter its negative effects. Carrying a blue bead, or a head of garlic with only one clove gives protection. If that doesn’t work, we can try a tiger claw around the neck, touching a watch chain, or the hand of Miriam.

How many people does it take to inflict stereotype threat on an individual or a group? I, for example, think that social psychologists like Claude Steele are utter dipshits, and of course they are – but whose fault is that, really?

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64 Responses to Diss-ability

  1. misdreavus says:

    On the internet, there are tons of high school valedictorians who somehow scored pitifully low on the SAT. Why? Because of nerves, of course! Ergo, psychometrics is bunk. Or so goes the prevailing wisdom.

    Of course, they’re all stinking liars. (No, hon, you don’t quite belong at a school like Caltech.) But I always say — if you have a special talent that only works within the confines of your own room, it might as well not even exist. What’s the use?

    • Anon says:

      My SO who is currently very successful in academia, had fine-but-not-spectacular GRE scores and was denied admission to #1 program choice. This is despite supervisor requests, body of published work, and relevant industry experience.

      As far as admission standards go, unless you are in top %, your score is “pitifully low”. I am not convinced that any standardized test would have resolution to predict success difference between say top 10% and top 33%.

      So valedictorians scoring mediocre on the SAT and not getting into programs of choice? I can see it happening.

  2. One important aspect of using stereotype threat to explain low performance on tests of intellect is that it condemns the test taker even more profoundly than the low test result. You would have to say to the putative employer “The test result is not a true indicator of this candidate’s ability, so please hire them. However, never give them any work which requires intellectual effort because, should they realize that their intellects are under critical examination, they will be unable to perform”. Recalls Samuel Johnson’s observation “It is wonderful when a calculation is made, how little the mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession’ “

  3. dearieme says:

    It must surely be the case that some people who do well in tests and examinations have the advantage of rising well to a little stress of the right type. Could this dealing well with pressure relate to a phenomenon on the sports field, where some players do well when called upon to react very swiftly to a situation, and don’t do so well when they have time to think about their actions?

  4. CantPickAName says:

    While blaming test scores on evil eye is laughable, I’m not sure the evil eye is as far-fetched as you make it out to be.

    There are plenty of demonstrations of foot-in-the-door-technique/priming/operant-conditioning/other-psychological-voodoo used to convince people that they’re altruistic[1] or that they’re robbers[2] or whatnot. Why can’t you use the same voodoo to convince people that they’re stupid?

    But this is probably not what’s going on with test score gaps. I don’t think psychological voodoo works on 3-year-olds.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot-in-the-door_technique
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heist_(Derren_Brown_special)

  5. IC says:

    Internal factors: Confidence, self-esteem, self-motivation,
    vs
    External factors: Encouragement, nurturing, enviroment, conditions.

    Internal factors > external factors.

    Among internal factors: Self-motivation is way more important than blind-confidence which might be result of ignorance. Certainly self-motivation + ability makes the final cut.

  6. Anon says:

    I am very skeptical of SAT predictive ability. SAT mostly measures ability to study and take SAT.

    • anneallen3 says:

      low IQ likely hinders the ability to study

      • Anon says:

        Probably. We also know that high IQ is not a guarantee of success. Can we also interpolate this to mean that average IQ in not a guarantee of failure?

      • albatross says:

        Think of it like height and basketball. There are plenty of tall guys who can’t play basketball, and a fair number of relatively short guys who can, height isn’t everything, the best player on the court is usually not the tallest guy, and yet height is a huge advantage in basketball. I think that’s a fair approximation of g and success in some intellectually demanding area. The best chess player or cardiologist or mathematician in the world may not be the chess player/cardiologist/mathematician with the highest g, plenty of super smart people wouldn’t have done well in those areas at all, and yet intelligence is a big factor in success in all three of those areas.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      I am very skeptical of your ability to think.

      • Anon says:

        I am not at all skeptical of your ability to defend establishment that allows people in academia to sail through ‘career’ completely devoid of anything resembling success simply based on credentialism and seniority.

    • Pincher Martin says:

      Wrong. The SAT is highly correlated with IQ tests, making it a “de facto IQ test”.

      To say, as you do in another post, that “high IQ is not a guarantee of success” is to state the obvious with an air of revelation. It’s not a lot different than saying that being tall is no guarantee of excelling at basketball or that being handsome is no guarantee of getting laid. True, and yet everyone seems to bet on the stereotype.

      None of this should be new to anyone who’s dipped into a book or two on IQ. So I assume you must be winging it based on your gut instinct. If you have a high IQ (and I assume most posters here do), you’ve indeed effectively shown its limits, but perhaps not in the way you intended.

      • Matt says:

        Reading that study, as I understand it the standard error of prediction being 6 or 10 (depending which of the two regression equations they give) indicates, you only have about a 15% chance of being 6-10 IQ points lower than their regression equation predicts and only about 15% chance of being 6-10 IQ points higher than their regression equation predicts.

        So about 30% of people will be 6-10 IQ points higher or lower (on their IQ measure) than the SAT predicts, in some. Which is still pretty accurate. Or have I misunderstood the standard error of prediction?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “I am very skeptical of SAT predictive ability. SAT mostly measures ability to study and take SAT.”

      High IQ might not be a sufficient condition but if it’s a necessary condition that’s enough. Say someone with a high IQ couldn’t sit still and pay attention long enough to pass any exams because they wanted to be outside. It’s still a reasonable test because that person wouldn’t be any good at a job that required them to sit still and pay attention. They’d quit in weeks and get something outside.

  7. Jim says:

    Stress can certainly reduce performance for some peope but others actually do better under stress. Chess players show interesting differences. Some fall apart after they make a bad move but someone like Emanuel Lasker was never more dangerous than after he had made a poor move. When you had got Lasker into a bad position you were in real trouble.

    Of course if stress constantly makes a person fall apart that is probably a worst disadvantage than just being of low intelligence.

  8. anneallen3 says:

    as we all know, diss-abled test takers get extra time (1.5 time) on the SAT. The college board has a study (on their site) titled “The Impact of Extended Time on Sat Test Performance.” The study concludes, “Lower ability test takers gain little or no benefit from extra time…extra time does not help and may hinder low-ability students with disabilities.” In my children’s classes the students who got extra time never did well in school or on standardized tests. We should all feel better about this since extra time is also given on the MCAT.

  9. Jim says:

    A curious thing about the supposed effect of racism to affect the performance of blacks is that according to some it works even if the racism is “unconscious”. So white people without even thinking about it or having any conscious intention can cast a magic spell on blacks rendering them incompetent. I can see that the ability of white people to effortlessly cast these magic spells must have been a tremendous advantage if it works with animals. A white hunter in Europe chasing a deer only had to think bad thoughts about the deer’s running ability and the deer would trip and break it’s leg.

    As opposed to blacks East Asians appear to be completely immune to the magical spells of the white devils.

    • Anon says:

      I have worked in Korea and had opportunity to observe obsessive test-taking culture there. I can ensure you that it does not translate to success or competence.

      • misdreavus says:

        Greater competence per marginal increment of work? Hardly. That’s what happens when a bunch of mediocrities squabble over an increasingly limited supply of resources, and the majority of people everywhere are unexceptional.

        But that’s not a very incompetent society, on the whole. The very electronic device you are using to read this most certainly contains at least a few parts manufactured in South Korea.

      • IC says:

        It does translate to my current status at top 1% status (both income and wealth wise). Good grade >good school > good job > good income > good investment opportunity > further good income > more investment&business (job creation for many people)>>>>> exponential growth.

        Now I can do many self-actuaization stuff.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        I’ve worked in Taiwan and had the opportunity to observe the obsessive test-taking culture there when it’s married to modern technology and science. I can assure you that it does translate to success and competence.

        It’s hard to think of a more successful society over the last fifty years than either Taiwan or South Korea. The latter country had a lower per capita GDP than Ghana did in 1960. You can accomplish a lot when you put together intelligence with hard work.

        Incidentally, both Taiwan and Korea (and much of the rest of East Asia) show the limits of the stereotype threat. I’ve never seen such a large group of people so hard on themselves.

    • g2-337af867fe9cd20258bdbc586fbefd0d says:

      I dont believe in primitive superstitions like evil eye and spells and bad vibes, but they sure exist and can be vanquished. Correct rituals and priestly blessings always work. Amulets are also powerful defenses. Stereotyping loses its effectiveness when confronted with stronger stereotyping, that’s why Black Muslims stereotype Whites as devils, and succeed in the SAT.

  10. Jim says:

    But South Korea doesn’t strike me as a particularly unsuccessful or incompetent culture.

    • Anon says:

      In my technical field they are spectacularly incompetent culture, and I have very little reason to expect it is different in other fields. This incompetence is why they have to pay obscene amount of money to export foreign specialists.

      I see Korean culture as heavily hierarchical and seniority-based with huge emphasis on right-of-passage testing. Cultural obsession with standardized testing (I believe it has roots in Confucuanism) is very harmful in grinding out any and all creativity or independent thinking out of entire population.

      I have worked with Korean-educated Koreans and American-educated Koreans, and difference is drastic. I am not sure how much of this translates to Japanese or Chinese cultures.

  11. dave chamberlin says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to discount self doubt becoming a self fulfilling prophesy, it happens. This doesn’t contradict Cochran’s main point, people resort to all kinds of bullshit to discount intelligence tests. Kindly allow me to drag the thread off subject. The evil eye is of course ridiculous, but if the clowns that call themselves paranormal psychologists had any sense (they don’t) they would conduct a study seeing if there is such a thing as the hungry eye. If any paranormal sense could evolve, one that senses you are being watched by a hungry animal that is thinking about you as a potential meal, would evolve. We have all had the feeling we are being watched. Make a study of it. See if people can sense when they are being watched by a large extremely hungry carnivore. Does this study exist already?

    • There are studies claiming that people can sense when they are being watched, but nothing which survives proper replication with adequate controls. Hungry animals were not used in the experiment, as far as I know.

  12. Genobollocks says:

    So, when Greg Cochran doesn’t have any actual arguments against something he disagrees with, he just goes on a crazy rant.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2013/05/how-the-race-intelligence-and-genetics-question-will-semi-resolve-within-the-next-10-years/#comment-912275739

    • Scharlach says:

      I only skimmed the bulk of the comment thread at Razib’s, but it seemed like you didn’t offer any substantive arguments, either. You simply kept linking to that meta-analysis and completely ignored the larger point that ST, if it exists, is probably a phenomenon occurring only in controlled laboratory settings.

    • 420blazeitfgt says:

      What if some of the studies are bad? Did that meta-analysis do a critical analysis of individual studies or just throw them all the results in together? For example, Stoet and Geary did a meta-analysis of stereotype threat studies showing a math gender gap. This is from the abstract:
      “Only 55% of the articles with experimental designs that could have replicated the original results did so. But half of these were confounded by statistical adjustment of preexisting mathematics exam scores. Of the unconfounded experiments, only 30% replicated the original. A meta-analysis of these effects confirmed that only the group of studies with adjusted mathematics scores displayed the stereotype threat effect. We conclude that although stereotype threat may affect some women, the existing state of knowledge does not support the current level of enthusiasm for this as a mechanism underlying the gender gap in mathematics.”

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/119810776/Can-Stereotype-Threat-Explain-the-Gender-Gap-in-Mathematics-Performance-and-Achievement

      People say that there are a lot of crap studies published in psychology.

  13. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Yes, it always seemed strange that people wouldn’t try as hard as they could to get what they want. They may want stupid or maladaptive things, at least in our current environment, but being easily discouraged by others doesn’t seem to be an adaptive trait in most circumstances.

    On the other hand, some women do seem to need encouragement to achieve anything. There are a fair number of women artists, dancers, writers, actresses, who do seem to need mentors etc. more than men to get recognition. Ray Sawhill once talked to Robert McKee about women screenwriters and how, despite often being more perceptive etc., women tended to be more easily discouraged by having their work shat all over by people in the movie business.

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      But then maybe women just don’t have the same drive to achieve in those areas. It’s not as “high stakes” for them, while for men it’s death or glory.

  14. Richard Sharpe says:

    The problem I have with stereotype threat is this.

    By now the genes for stereotype threat should have been eliminated from every gene pool, because those who do not succumb to stereotype threat could use it to reduce the reproductive success of those who do.

    Eg: Dude, you have such small confidence I doubt the ladies would be interested in you?

  15. Greying Wanderer says:

    I think there’s something in the upper half of black ability achieving some amount less than they could but it’s not stereotype threat as shown by how African immigrants often outperform slave-descended black people. It’s black racial antagonism – not wanting to “act white.” The upper half of African immigrants often don’t have this and seem to me – anecdotally – to do a bit better pound for pound.

  16. Brett says:

    It’s worth pointing out that the actual data on stereotype threat is both interesting and does not say what many people believe it to say. The original analysis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7473032) showed that blacks underperformed whites when normalized by SAT scores and that this underperformance — again, underperformance normalized by SAT score — was resolved when stereotype threat was removed. In other words, the data shows that stereotype threat causes blacks to perform worse than you would expect based on prior knowledge of their SAT score. Removing the stereotype threat causes blacks to perform exactly as you would expect based on prior knowledge of their SAT score.

    Stereotype threat, regardless of how it is presented by those who haven’t looked at the data, does not and was not intended to explain the gap in SAT scores between blacks and whites. It was supposed to explain why blacks underperform in college based on their SAT scores. On average, blacks with identical SAT scores as whites do worse in college, and nobody knows why. Claude Steele suggested stereotype threat as a possibility, and it seems plausible based on the data that it may explain part of the underperformance.

    There’s some analysis of both the original data and an analysis of the media surrounding the data at http://www2.uni-jena.de/svw/igc/studies/ss03/sackitt_hardison_cullen_2004.pdf. It’s worth noting that while Steele correctly described his results, and did not claim to explain the white-black gap, overwhelmingly the popular media, journal articles, and psychological texts misrepresented his findings as explaining the black-white gap.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Stereotype threat is often used as a explanation for lower scores on standardized tests, as well as an explanation for differences in the predictive validity of such tests. Those differences are not very big: SAT/grade correlations range from 0.46 to 0.51 for white students, 0.40 to 0.46 for underrepresented groups. Jencks came to the conclusion that that test scores have a moderate correlation with grades and that test scores predict a little better for whites than backs. There are also differences in predictive validity between men and women – women do better than their scores predict, men worse.

      As for stereotype threat itself, I think it’s complete bullshit. Doesn’t exist. I think it’s all publication bias and politically motivated wishful thinking, seasoned with outright lies and stupidity, as is the norm for most of psychology. You might say that I give the published results of some fields more credence than others. One influence has been listening to psychologists I have some respect for, smart people with good quantitative skills – they don’t believe in stereotype threat.

      • caethan says:

        Fair enough. I don’t have a high degree of confidence in stereotype threat in any event, and given the shoddy work that a lot of psychologists do, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was bias and wishful thinking. That said, I do think it’s important to point out to people who are using it as an explanation for why blacks do so much worse than whites that their model is flatly contradicted by Steele’s data. Even the best evidence for stereotype threat isn’t strong enough to be an explanation for the achievement gap.

    • Pete says:

      If an ability test is unbiased, the expectation is that it will overpredict the criterion performance (such as college grades) of a group with a lower average test score compared to a group with a higher average test score. Thus the overprediction of black college performance vis-à-vis whites is just what we would expect based on the fact that the average test score of blacks is lower and that the test is an unbiased measure of ability for both groups.

      The logic is explained in this article. The easiest way to understand this is to think that a black individual who scores above a high cut-off point is more likely to do so because he’s lucky than a white individual. Tests are never perfectly reliable: some high scores are due to lucky guessing, and the farther you score from the population mean, the more likely it is that you made lucky guesses, and because the black mean is lower than the white mean, high black scores are more likely to be due to chance. The fact that blacks in selective colleges get GPAs lower than their SAT scores would predict is simply about regression toward the mean: the high SAT scores of many blacks are flukes, while their GPAs represent their true level of ability.

      There is thus no need to postulate mysterious mechanisms like the stereotype threat to account for the overprediction. The fair thing would be to correct black SAT scores downwards, but of course we’re not doing it.

    • Tim says:

      I don’t believe in stereotype threat, but I think there is something to giving up or not trying–and so doing worse than you otherwise would–for various reasons, and racial alienation could be one of those reasons. And this is independent of the truth of group differences in IQ.

  17. Also La Griffe du Lion on maximizing productivity with reverse affirmative action: “Unlike other theories, the pigeonhole menace school (PMS) is founded on evidence. I do experiments. When, for example, I include a check box for race at the top of an examination, African American students solve fewer problems than when I don’t.”

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      PMS, ha!

      The notion that high SAT scores for certain minorities over-predict their retest (actual college) performance due to luck is interesting, because it would also predict that the same is true of high scores of whites and white vs East Asian scores.

      We could likely predict the size of this effect and then look to see if the prediction is correct.

  18. Stereotype Threat is similar to the principle that your children will unerringly pick up all your unconscious sexist values, often within a few months of birth, while remaining impervious to the conscious values that you make every effort to teach them for 18 years.

    In psychology this is considered clinically proven because boys and girls act differently as far back as we can measure. And what else could cause such, other than deep cultural sexism?

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  20. D says:

    priming works, I think that stereotype threat has a lot of
    important boundaries that severely limit its generalizability.
    I think what has happened is, a few people found this result
    early on and now there’s publication bias. But when you talk
    behind the scenes to people in the profession, they have a
    hard time finding it. So what do they do in that case? A lot of
    people just shelve that experiment; they say it must be
    wrong because there are 10 papers in the literature that
    find it. Well, if there have been 200 studies that try to find
    it, 10 should find it, right? This is a Type II error but people
    still believe in the theory of stereotype threat. I think that
    there are a lot of reasons why it does not occur. So while I
    believe in priming, I am not convinced that stereotype
    threat is important. – John List

    http://www.richmondfed.org/publications/research/region_focus/2012/q2-3/pdf/interview.pdf

    Page 37

  21. Nietzsche says:

    This meta-analysis was a pretty big blow for the whole stereotype threat industry (though I somehow doubt its dyed-in-the-wool supporters will take much from it. What would happen if similar meta-analyses were performed for its other domains, and if publication bias was factored into the assessment?):

    http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2012-00560-001/

    I recall reading a media story about this paper when it was published, and they solicited Steele for comments. He sounded pretty perturbed, now that a meta-analysis was calling his brainchild a bunch of bull.

  22. Jim says:

    To Albatross – You’ve put it well. Someone with a record like Andrew Wiles is obviously both highly intelligent and hugely knowledgable in his areas of mathematics. However he also spent, as he says, about 7 years of his life devoting virtually 100% of his available time to trying to find a proof of the Modularity Conjecture. He says that he went to sleep thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. Eventually he succeeded in proving it for semistable rational elliptic curves which was enough to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. It took another 7 years for other brilliant mathematicians to extend his methods to show that the Modularity Conjecture is true for all rational ellliptic curves.
    Wiles achievement had a lot to do with his intelligence and knowledge but it also had a lot to do with an incredible degree of persistence and effort in working on a ferociouly difficult problem which seemed totally opaque. It wasn’t simply a matter of having no guarantee of success. Any rational assessment of his chances when he started out would be that they were very slim.

  23. Jim says:

    I should have said “would have been” instead of “would be”. The Indo-European verb system seems to be slipping from my memory as I age.

  24. 420blazeitfgt says:

    A way to test ST would be to look at blondes. They’re stereotyped as being silly in a blatant way and more heavily than blacks are so they should score lower than average.

  25. szopeno says:

    This may be not so much stereotype threat, as dealing with uncertainty.

    I know at least one study in which there were three groups of tested girls: they entered a room, where an assistent apologised that the professor is absent and asked them to solve the test. One entered the room of “liberal”, second the room of the “sexist” and the third the room of “neutral”. Liberal had diplom of “males support feminist movement”! Sexist huge painting of half-naked women and the bike etc.

    The results: the best results were in the room of “liberals” and “sexists”, the worse in the room of “neutral”. Seems it’s not so much stereotype threat, than rather the uncertainty. With liberal and sexist girls knew, what they could expect, so they didn’t think much about it. With neutral, it seems that the thinked too much about “who is this guy, and what should I do to please him?”.

  26. Jim says:

    The conditions in the rooms labeled “liberals” and “sexist” seem totally unrealistic. When I attended school long ago I never recall taking tests or listening to lectures in rooms in which there were pictures of half-naked women or for that matter any pictures of any women or any political slogans.
    What could such a test have to do with reality?
    If schools ever start putting up pictures of half-naked women in classrooms during tests or lectures I suspect that it would be the academic performance of men which will suffer the most.

    • Anthony says:

      A few months ago, I spent some time in a nearby public middle school. Some of the teachers’ politics were impossible not to discern, based on the slogans and signs on the walls.

      No pictures of half-naked women that I saw, though.

  27. Large Unit says:

    Treat their anxiety before the test with propranolol or a low dose of diazepam. It will not impede their intellectual ability but it may help them to forget their stereotype for just long enough.

  28. teageegeepea says:

    You asked for an evolutionary theory. One might* be that many animals give displays of submission to superiors and that “choking” on tough tasks is a submission reflex.
    *As in, this is not actually my explanation for gaps in test scores.

  29. Toad says:

    “Why would such a tendency have evolved?”

    If you get low test scores you don’t go to college and instead you have children sooner. If you don’t finish high school you can start even earlier.

    If you can get the low test scores while still being intelligent, you are in even better shape.

    From a study:
    on average an additional year of schooling appears to be associated with a
    reduction of about 0.13 in the average number of children.

    The Gene Bomb
    “those having learning disorders tend to drop out of school earlier and have more children, thus passing on learning disorders at a higher rate.”

  30. Greying Wanderer says:

    http://glpiggy.net/2013/04/09/white-student-outcomes-are-parenthetical/

    Not sure how well ST fits with studies showing black students do better in majority white schools although it would fit with a reduction in peer pressure vis a vis acting white.

    • Anthony says:

      There are probably also income effects – a school with 5% black students is probably in a higher-income neighborhood, and the parents of the black children are likely significantly smarter than the average parents of black children.

  31. szopen says:

    You know what, Jensen’s has the answer (As usual). Just after finishing reading this post, i have been reading Jensen’s “g-factor” and in chapter about group differences, he writes that the experimental results can be explained not by “stereotype threat”, but by test anxiety. In short, the anxiety affects differently performance depending on whether test is difficult or easy. If test if easy, anxiety results in better results. If test in difficult, anxiety first helps a bit, but after passing some threshold it affects test results negatively. This is, according to Jensen, well-known Yerkes-Dodson law in testing.

    In other words, then the same test was applied to blacks and whites, it was, on average, difficult to blacks and easy to whites. As such, according to Yerkes-Dodson law, one should expect that high anxiety would depress the performance of blacks, but would either not affect, or would help with performance of the whites.

    Jensen is THE men. I think in any discussion with critics of group differences you should just quote proper chapter and page from Jensen, where the complete and convincing answer is given. Stereotype threat is cause of group differences! Jen 12, 514. IQ measures abilities only valued in western societies, not real intelligence! Jen 12, 512. Read it, son, and sin no more.

  32. Alex says:

    Why didn’t stereotype threat cause blacks to underperform in sports? I’ve always heard that everyone said blacks weren’t as good as whites at baseball until Jackie Robinson proved them wrong. Maybe that stereotype is gone now, but it supposedly existed at one time, which means it should have locked blacks into a similar cycle of low achievement. So why didn’t stereotype threat apply in that case.

    Also since Asians and Jews do better than whites at academics, are they benefiting from some sort of positive stereotype threat? Like, they’ve been told they will do better and so they do? If so, where did this positive stereotype come from, if not reality? I can imagine that negative stereotypes about blacks were fabricated by whites to keep them down, but where did the positive stereotypes about Asians and Jews come from?

    Or is that white gentiles suffer from stereotype threat *in relation to Asians and Jews,* meaning when they take a test they do not feel white hegemony over blacks, they feel nervous about how they are not as good as Jews or Asians and so underperform relative to them.

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