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Stereotype Threat and the Gender Gap in Political Knowledge
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Stereotype Threat and the Gender Gap in Political Knowledge


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  • 1. Researchers : Matthew S. McGlone, Joshua Aronson, Diane Kobrynowicz Reviewed by : Rachel Andrex, Eunhee Yu, Greta Coates, Dominique Goldring, & Zion Seyoum November 13, 2008 Psyc 357 UMBC
  • 2. Introduction:
    • National Election Studies have shown that there is a gender gap in political knowledge in the US, women score lower then men on surveys of political knowledge.
    • This study was designed to address the questions, is stereotype threat the cause of this reported gap?
    • It is important to answer this question so future surveys be conducted to eliminate this bias and instead yield a more accurate result.
  • 3. Introduction Continued:
    • So what is stereotype threat?
      • The theory about stereotype threat is the concept that when a participant is reminded before taking a test that there is a stereotype about them they experience anxiety about confirming that sterotype which in turn leads to lower scores than they are capable of.
    • There have been studies done on math performance that show the negative effects of stereotype threat.
  • 4. Introduction Continued:
    • This study asks, does stereotype threat affect scores on political knowledge surveys and contribute to the observed gender gap in this field, will the gender of the surveyor be significant enough to cue a stereotype threat reaction, and will being told the survey being given has shown a gender gap in the past elicit a stereotype threat response.
  • 5. Methods:
    • Phone surveys were conducted on Lafayette College undergraduate students in which ten question from NES surveys were asked.
    • Three variables were examined in this study, the interviewers gender, the interviewees gender and the diagnosticity of the test.
    • The survey consisted of 10 questions taken from NES surveys that are generally considered indicative of political knowledge.
  • 6. Results:
    • The mean score for men was higher than that for women.
    • When women were interviewed by women they scored higher than women who were interviewed by men.
    • When women were told the survey had shown a gender gap in the past they scored lower then women who were told there was no gender gap in the past.
  • 7. Results Continued:
    • The gender of the interviewer and the diagnosticity of the survey affected men and women differently.
      • There was not a significant difference in men's scores who were interviewed by a man or woman, or who were told the test was diagnostic or non-diagnostic.
      • Women scored higher when interviewed by another women or when told the test was non-diagnostic.
  • 8. Results Continued:
    • “ when women were interviewed by female (rather than male) interviewers and the survey was portrayed as nondiagnostic (rather than diagnostic) of alleged gender differences in political knowledge, the gender gap closed” (396)
  • 9. Discussion:
    • The results of this survey suggests that concerns over confirming a negative stereotype can negatively influence women’s scores on political knowledge.
    • The results of this survey have implications towards what should be controlled in further political surveys.
  • 10. Discussion Continued:
    • Because the NES does not keep track of the gender of its interviewers only speculation is possible about how this has influenced the reported gender gap in political knowledge.
    • There will be individual variation in how much stereotype threat will effect each person.
    • The results of this study add support to the social science of the negative results of stereotype threat.
  • 11. References:
    • McGlone, Aronson, Kobrynowicz, Matthew, Joshua, Diane. "Stereotype Threat and the Gender Gap in Political Knowledge." Psychology of Women Quarterly 30(2006): 392-398.
  • 12. Group Discussion
    • What other fields or activities might the stereotype effect play a role in?