How Stereotypes Affect Us

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Acclaimed social psychologist Claude Steele describes studies that show that exposing subjects to stereotypes—reminding female math majors about to take a test that women are considered inferior to men at math—impairs their performance. In Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us he sheds new light on a number of American social phenomena, from the racial and gender gaps in standardized test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men.


Claude Steele

Comments [9]

Andrew Sichel LMSW from NYC, NY.

It is difficult not to consider the absence of mention by yourself or your guest Provost Claude
Steele, of LGBT stereotyping, particularly two days after NYC Gay Pride as an indication of the continuing hetero-sexism which remains the greatest stigma in American society. One out of three teen and college aged suicides are committed by Gays and Lesbians. Minority and poor communities are particularly virulent breeding grounds for homophobia. For a man the pressure not to be queer is highest in poor African American communities. Once again the sticking point in today's judicial confirmation hearings was the gay and lesbian issue. Please
pay as much attention to our hetero-sexism as our racism and classism in your otherwise always excellent and vitally important work.

Jun. 30 2010 01:06 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Hugh, I tend to associate a "good" British accent w/snobbery! I'm working on overcoming this prejudice....

Jun. 29 2010 04:56 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How does the idea that black students who do well in school are "acting white" fit in w/the finding that people don't internalize others' stereotypes about their group? Isn't the expectation that blacks will do badly in school the same as the stereotype?

Jun. 29 2010 12:35 PM

Eye-color, skin-color, ethnicity, weight, clothing, accent, distance between the eyes --- what _doesn't_ retooled to reinforce stereotypes?

Jun. 29 2010 12:35 PM

Surely stereotypes do the work of maintaining boundaries that have been erected to keep people separate for reasons of race, class, etc....

In Britain, there are _huge_ stereotypes attached to accent. One generation back, my family was in the West Midlands. The accent of that region is routinely identified in Britain with lower intelligence. Some of those stereotypes even spill over into the US. How many Americans associate a "good" British accent with intelligence?

Jun. 29 2010 12:32 PM
Emily from Brooklyn

The stereotype that all women want/should be mothers is the most influential/important one that should be researched!

Jun. 29 2010 12:32 PM

Need-blind admissions is _not_ the same as class-blind admissions. The _vast_ majority of students entering Harvard come from significantly better-off backgrounds (including the vast majority of minority students).

Jun. 29 2010 12:28 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn

Claude Steele's comment about the person walking in Hyde Park, Chicago, reminds me of a very nice public service announcement that ran on TV for a while. A slight woman is alone on a city bus late at night. A hulking, Hells Angels type lumbers into a seat right across from her. She's frightened. Then he takes out a book -- poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Jun. 29 2010 12:23 PM

Is Tourette Syndrome of any revelance?

Jun. 29 2010 12:17 PM

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