A Few More Words on Stereotype Threat

A few more things about stereotype threat (ST), expanding on a previous post:

ST has only been shown to exist in experiments. In these experiments, Blacks and Whites, males and females, everyone really, is subject to ST and shows a similar decrement in performance.

From these experiments it has been extrapolated to the real world that Blacks are under stereotype threat, and that this explains the B-W test and even IQ gap, among other things. But it does not. Under ST threat, the B-W IQ and testing gap is the same as ever, except it is even worse! If you think about this, you realize that ST cannot possibly explain the performance and IQ gaps themselves. What it might do is make Blacks perform even worse than they ordinarily do!

No one knows if stereotype threat exists in the real world, who is subject to it, when, etc. No studies in the real world have shown that we can create high ST environments that Blacks do worse in and low ST environments that they do better in. In other words, all this stuff only works in the lab. It has no explanatory power whatsoever in the real world, where, maybe it exists, maybe it doesn’t, but we don’t know where and how it effects whomever or for that matter how to correct it once we see it.

The Blacks have jumped all over ST lately because, while we can’t prove it exists and harms them, we can’t really prove it doesn’t exist and doesn’t harm them either.

ST is not so much bunk as it is untestable, unverifiable and unfalsifiable theory. Arguing about ST is like arguing how many angels can dance on a pin. It’s interesting, but it can go on forever, and we will never learn anything or solve any problems.

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2 thoughts on “A Few More Words on Stereotype Threat”

  1. I don’t know. ST makes a lot of sense to me. It may not explain everything but I think for sure that it’s a factor. I know that I don’t perform identically in different environments when it comes to a number of things.

  2. “What it might do is make Blacks perform even worse than they ordinarily do!”

    Yea, so without ST, blacks would perform better on tests.

    Anyways, I have always believed that ST exists, especially when it concerns blacks and academics. However, ST only explains some of the difference between blacks and White/Asian test scores, not all of it.

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