In this paper I discuss the interrelated topics of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity as they relate to gender and gender identity. The former has become an emerging topic in feminist philosophy and has spawned a tremendous amount of research in social psychology and elsewhere. But the discussion, at least in how it connects to gender, is incomplete: the focus is only on cisgender women and their experiences. By considering trans women's experiences of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity, we gain (...) a deeper understanding of the phenomena and their problematic effects. (shrink)
For decades, intelligence and achievement tests have registered significant differences between people of different races, ethnicities, classes, and genders. We argue that most of these differences are explained not as reflections of differences in the distribution of intellectual virtues but as evidence for the metacognitive mediation of the intellectual virtues. For example, in the United States, blacks typically score worse than whites on tests of mathematics. This might lead one to think that fewer blacks possess the relevant intellectual virtues, or (...) that they possess them less fully. However, research on stereotype threat shows that when blacks are not reminded of their race, they do much better on these tests than when they are. Simply raising to salience the race of the student triggers the activation of the stereotype, which in turn leads to poorer performance. However, learning about stereotype threat to a large extent immunizes people against it. This suggests that the psycho-social dimension of intelligence that recognizes the possibility of effects like stereotype threat is a crucial mediating variable in the development and expression of the intellectual virtues. The Socratic, “Know thyself” needs to be expanded to, “Know thyself and thy society.” Self-knowledge and knowledge of relevant stereotypes are a necessary condition for optimal development and expression of the other intellectual virtues. (shrink)
Stereotype threat—a situational context in which individuals are concerned about confirming a negative stereotype—is often shown to impact test performance, with one hypothesized mechanism being that cognitive resources are temporarily co-opted by intrusive thoughts and worries, leading individuals to underperform despite high content knowledge and ability. We test here whether stereotype threat may also impact initial student learning and knowledge formation when experienced prior to instruction. Predominantly African American fifth-grade students provided either their race or the date before a videotaped, (...) conceptually demanding mathematics lesson. Students who gave their race retained less learning over time, enjoyed the lesson less, reported a diminished desire to learn more, and were less likely to choose to engage in an optional math activity. The detrimental impact was greatest among students with high baseline cognitive resources. While stereotype threat has been well documented to harm test performance, the finding that effects extend to initial learning suggests that stereotype threat's contribution to achievement gaps may be greatly underestimated. (shrink)
This paper offers an unorthodox appraisal of empirical research bearing on the question of the low representation of women in philosophy. It contends that fashionable views in the profession concerning implicit bias and stereotype threat are weakly supported, that philosophers often fail to report the empirical work responsibly, and that the standards for evidence are set very low—so long as you take a certain viewpoint.
According to Stereotype Threat Hypothesis, fear of confirming gendered stereotypes causes women to experience anxiety in circumstances wherein their performance might potentially confirm those stereotypes, such as high-stakes testing scenarios in science, technology, engineering, and math courses. This anxiety causes women to underperform, which in turn causes them to withdraw from math-intensive disciplines. STH is thought by many to account for the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, and a growing body of evidence substantiates this hypothesis. In considering the plausibility (...) of STH as an explanation for women's disproportionate attrition from undergraduate philosophy programs, one is struck by dissimilarities between STEM and philosophy that appear to undermine the applicability of STH to the latter. In this paper, I argue that these dissimilarities are either merely apparent or merely apparently relevant to the plausibility of STH as an explanation for gender disparities in philosophy. I argue further that, if research from STEM uncovers promising strategies for confronting stereotype threat, we should think about how to apply those strategies in our introductory philosophy classrooms. (shrink)
By applying classical and contemporary insights of the phenomenological tradition to key findings within the literature on stereotype threat, this paper considers the embodied effects of everyday exposure to racism and makes a contribution to the growing field of applied phenomenology. In what follows, the paper asks how a phenomenological perspective can both contribute to and enrich discussions of ST in psychology. In answering these questions, the paper uses evidence from social psychology as well as first personal testimonies from members (...) of marginalized groups to argue that subjectively experienced racial oppression is embodied and thus has effects on selfhood that are harmful. More specifically, it makes the case that what are most often considered to be temporary or context-based consequences of ST are in fact more wide reaching and harmful than assumed in that the harms that result from suffering ST become a part of one’s identity, and thus a background lens through which one experiences the world. (shrink)
Individuals who experience stereotype threat – the pressure resulting from social comparisons that are perceived as unfavourable – show performance decrements across a wide range of tasks. One account of this effect is that the cognitive pressure triggered by such threat drains the same cognitive resources that are implicated in the respective task. The present study investigates whether mindfulness can be used to moderate stereotype threat, as mindfulness has previously been shown to alleviate working-memory load. Our results show that performance (...) decrements that typically occur under stereotype threat can indeed be reversed when the individual engages in a brief mindfulness task. The theoretical implications of our findings are discussed. (shrink)
Social constructionist claims are surprising and interesting when they entail that presumably natural kinds are in fact socially constructed. The claims are interesting because of their theoretical and political importance. Authors like Díaz-León argue that constitutive social construction is more relevant for achieving social justice than causal social construction. This paper challenges this claim. Assuming there are socially salient groups that are discriminated against, the paper presents a dilemma: if there were no constitutively constructed social kinds, the causes of the (...) discrimination of existing social groups would have to be addressed, and understanding causal social construction would be relevant to achieve social justice. On the other hand, not all possible constitutively socially constructed kinds are actual social kinds. If an existing social group is constitutively constructed as a social kind K, the fact that it actually exists as a K has social causes. Again, causal social construction is relevant. The paper argues that (i) for any actual social kind X, if X is constitutively socially constructed as K, then it is also causally socially constructed; and (ii) causal social construction is at least as relevant as constitutive social construction for concerns of social justice. For illustration, I draw upon two phenomena that are presumed to contribute towards the discrimination of women: (i) the poor performance effects of stereotype threat, and (ii) the silencing effects of gendered language use. (shrink)
The Gendered Conference Campaign seeks to reduce the prevalence of conferences at which the keynote speakers are all male. Such conferences, according to proponents of the campaign, stereotype philosophy as male, contribute to implicit bias against women and perpetuate stereotype threat. I argue, first, that if a more diverse list of keynote speakers were the correct way to counter harms such as implicit bias and stereotype threat, then a Gendered Conference Campaign would not be the solution. The campaign would need (...) to include other groups that are the victims of implicit bias and stereotype within philosophy. Other challenges to proponents of the Gendered Conference Campaign are then presented. (shrink)
Women working in academic environments that are male dominated are subjected to high levels of occupational stress due to the so called stereotype threat (ST) (Steele, 1997). Stereotype threat is a social-psychological threat that arises when one is in the situation of doing something for which a negative stereotype about his/her group applies. For women's university teaching staff stereotype threat is a source of anxiety that affects their performance, career commitment and overall job satisfaction. Additionally ST accounts, partly, for the (...) horizontal and vertical gender segregation that is found in many fields. In order to overcome these problems we have proposed a preventive intervention program based on Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy principles. (shrink)
Tamar Gendler argues that, for those living in a society in which race is a salient sociological feature, it is impossible to be fully rational: members of such a society must either fail to encode relevant information containing race, or suffer epistemic costs by being implicitly racist. However, I argue that, although Gendler calls attention to a pitfall worthy of study, she fails to conclusively demonstrate that there are epistemic (or cognitive) costs of being racist. Gendler offers three supporting phenomena. (...) First, implicit racists expend cognitive energy repressing their implicit biases. I reply, citing Ellen Bialystok’s research, that constant use of executive functioning can be beneficial. Second, Gendler argues that awareness of a negative stereotype of one’s own race with regard to a given task negatively affects one’s performance of that task. This phenomenon, I argue, demonstrates that those against whom the stigma is directed suffer costs, but it fails to demonstrate that the stigmatizers suffer cognitively. Finally, Gendler argues that racists are less competent when recognizing faces of other races than when recognizing faces of their own race because, in the first instance, they encode the race of the face (taking up cognitive space that could have been used to encode fine-grained distinctions), whereas in the second instance they encode no race. I argue that in-group/out-group categorization rather than racism is the cognitive cost. I conclude that Gendler has failed to demonstrate that there are cognitive costs associated with being a racist. (shrink)
We argue that generic generalizations about racial groups are pernicious in what they communicate (both to members of that racial group and to members of other racial groups), and may be central to the construction of social categories like racial groups. We then consider how we should change and challenge uses of generic generalizations about racial groups.
There are many reasons to include texts written by women in early modern philosophy courses. The most obvious one is accuracy: women helped to shape the philosophical landscape of the time. Thus, to craft a syllabus that wholly excludes women is to give students an inaccurate picture of the early modern period. Since it seems safe to assume that we all aim for accuracy, this should be reason enough to include women writers in our courses. This article nonetheless offers an (...) additional reason: when students are exposed to philosophical texts written by women, they learn that women have been, are, and can be philosophers. Given how underrepresented women are in philosophy, this finding is significant. If we aim to change the face of philosophy—so that it includes more women—we must include texts written by women in our syllabi. The article considers various obstacles faced by those who work to respond to this call to action. (shrink)
The underlying objective of this project is to examine the ways in which the exclusionary status of Muslim Americans remains unchallenged within John Rawls’s version of political liberalism. Toward this end, I argue that the stipulation of genuine belief in what is reasonably accessible to others in our society is an unreasonable expectation from minorities, given our awareness of how we are perceived by others. Second, using the work of Lisa Schwartzman, I show that Rawls’s reliance on the abstraction of (...) a closed society legitimizes the exclusion of citizens with marginal social locations. And finally, applying Charles Mills’s critique of ideal theory, I argue that Rawls’s idealization of a posture of civic friendship detracts from a discussion of equally significant societal values while sustaining existing social hierarchies. (shrink)
This study tests the hypothesis that the perception of philosophy as a male-oriented discipline contributes to the pronounced gender disparity within the field. To assess the hypothesis, we determined the extent to which individuals view philosophy as masculine, and whether individual differences in this correspond with greater identification with philosophy. We also tested whether identification with philosophy correlated to interest in it. We discovered, first, that the more women view philosophy as masculine, the less they identify with it, and second, (...) that the less women identify with philosophy, the less they want to major in it. Interestingly, this result does not hold for men—their viewing philosophy as masculine does not correspond to their identification with it, nor does it correlate with their likelihood of majoring in it. We also discovered that the typical student does not have a preconceived notion of philosophy as masculine; this suggests that they come to view philosophy as masculine the more they do it, which in turn supports the possibility that teaching the discipline differently may prevent students from conceiving of philosophy as masculine, thus allowing a path to reducing the gender disparity. (shrink)
Despite its place in the humanities, the career prospects and numbers of women in philosophy much more closely resemble those found in the sciences and engineering. This book collects a series of critical essays by female philosophers pursuing the question of why philosophy continues to be inhospitable to women and what can be done to change it. By examining the social and institutional conditions of contemporary academic philosophy in the Anglophone world as well as its methods, culture, and characteristic commitments, (...) the volume provides a case study in interpretation of one academic discipline in which women's progress seems to have stalled since initial gains made in the 1980s. Some contributors make use of concepts developed in other contexts to explain women's under-representation, including the effects of unconscious biases, stereotype threat, and micro-inequities. Other chapters draw on the resources of feminist philosophy to challenge everyday understandings of time, communication, authority and merit, as these shape effective but often unrecognized forms of discrimination and exclusion. Often it is assumed that women need to change to fit existing institutions. This book instead offers concrete reflections on the way in which philosophy needs to change, in order to accommodate and benefit from the important contribution women's full participation makes to the discipline. (shrink)
This chapter has two main goals: to update philosophers on the state of the art in the scientific psychology of intelligence, and to explain and evaluate challenges to the measurement invariance of intelligence tests. First, we provide a brief history of the scientific psychology of intelligence. Next, we discuss the metaphysics of intelligence in light of scientific studies in psychology and neuroimaging. Finally, we turn to recent skeptical developments related to measurement invariance. These have largely focused on attributability: Where do (...) the mechanisms and dispositions that explain people’s performance on tests of intelligence inhere – in the agent, in the local testing environment, in the culture, or in the interactions among these? After explaining what measurement invariance is in the context of intelligence testing, we explore the phenomenon of stereotype threat as a challenge to measurement invariance, as well as more recent work on overcoming or buffering against stereotype threat. (shrink)
That philosophy is an outlier in the humanities when it comes to the underrepresentation of women has been the occasion for much discussion about possible effects of subtle forms of prejudice, including implicit bias and stereotype threat. While these ideas have become familiar to the philosophical community, there has only recently been a surge of interest in acquiring field-specific data. This paper adds to quantitative findings bearing on hypotheses about the effects of unconscious prejudice on two important stages along career (...) pathways: tenure-track hiring and early career publishing. (shrink)
Professional philosophy in the US remains relatively homogenous. I use four anecdotes to amplify some of the practices that may contribute to the dearth of underrepresented philosophers. Each anecdote highlights a different problem—lack of proper mentoring, stereotype threat, difficulties navigating sexism, and a sense of exclusion. Although I discuss each of these issues separately, it is certainly the case that these can and often do occur concurrently. I offer preliminary thoughts on how these problems could be addressed while keeping in (...) mind that philosophy in the US is a microcosm of the larger US society. (shrink)
Recently, researchers have begun to empirically investigate the gender gap in philosophy and provide potential explanations for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy relative to their representation in other disciplines. This empirical research as well as research on the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields has shed light on a priori, armchair explanations of the gender gap. For example, implicit bias and stereotype threat may contribute much less to the philosophy gender gap than previously thought. However, new (...) candidate contributing factors have emerged. Drawing on the theoretical resources concerning fixed mindsets in response to difficult tasks, a new theory suggests that practitioners in various fields, including philosophy, hold the belief that success in their fields requires natural brilliance. Further, the extent to which members of a field hold that belief predicts the diversity of the members of that field. Initial findings suggest that among the set of students who hold these beliefs, women are disproportionately disinterested in continuing in philosophy. Other hypotheses seem plausible, such as the idea that lay people hold gendered schemas about philosophy, but require more empirical support to be partial explanations. Future empirical research should focus on these plausible hypotheses, replications of previous findings, and investigating the effects of intersectionality within the gender gap. (shrink)
A number of philosophers attribute the underrepresentation of women in philosophy largely to bias against women or some kind of wrongful discrimination. They cite six sources of evidence to support their contention: (1) gender disparities that increase along the path from undergraduate student to full time faculty member; (2) anecdotal accounts of discrimination in philosophy; (3) research on gender bias in the evaluation of manuscripts, grants, and curricula vitae in other academic disciplines; (4) psychological research on implicit bias; (5) psychological (...) research on stereotype threat; and (6) the relatively small number of articles written from a feminist perspective in leading philosophy journals. In each case, we find that proponents of the discrimination hypothesis have tended to present evidence selectively. Occasionally they have even presented as evidence what appears to be something more dubious. (shrink)
Research suggests that interventions involving extensive training or counterconditioning can reduce implicit prejudice and stereotyping, and even susceptibility to stereotype threat. This research is widely cited as providing an “existence proof” that certain entrenched social attitudes are capable of change, but is summarily dismissed—by philosophers, psychologists, and activists alike—as lacking direct, practical import for the broader struggle against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Criticisms of these “debiasing” procedures fall into three categories: concerns about empirical efficacy, about practical feasibility, and about the (...) failure to appreciate the underlying structural-institutional nature of discrimination. I reply to these criticisms of debiasing, and argue that a comprehensive strategy for combating prejudice and discrimination should include a central role for training our biases away. (shrink)
The competing expressions of ideology flooding the contemporary political landscape have taken a turn toward the absurd. The Radiance Foundation’s recent anti-abortion campaign targeting African-American women, including a series of billboards bearing the slogan “The most dangerous place for an African-American child is in the womb”, is just one example of political "discourse" that is both infuriating and confounding. Discourse with these features – problematic intelligibility, disinterest in the truth, and inflammatory rhetoric – has become increasingly common in politics, the (...) press, and even the arguments made by ordinary folk. It is often criticized for its falsehood or its hurtfulness; however, these critiques tend to miss its pernicious potential. This essay characterizes this insidious discourse as purposeful nonsense. Part of the way that purposeful nonsense functions, we argue, relies on taking advantage of harmful stereotypes and denigrating narratives that are already present in our culture. Purposeful nonsense both draws upon harmful ideology and fortifies it. The effect is that members of oppressed social groups are confronted with disparaging ideology, while its authors are free to deny responsibility for it. Black feminist and intersectional analysis – particularly in the discussion of race, abortion, and reproductive justice – are useful in identifying and criticizing the harmful subtext in the Radiance Foundation’s billboard campaign. The notion of purposeful nonsense serves to extend the reach of these criticisms. Purposeful nonsense – disguised as merely logically confused discourse – is a key factor in maintaining an oppressive and unjust society; however, feminist, black feminist, and intersectional analysis contextualizes purposeful nonsense, potentially disrupting its harmful influence. We conclude that purposeful nonsense employs a variation on stereotype threat, a phenomenon in which being reminded of negative stereotypes about one’s social group causes stereotypical performance failures. We suggest that the notion of stereotype threat combined with intersectional analysis offers a fruitful avenue along which research on this sort of discourse might be expanded. (shrink)
In this article, I explore a new reason in favor of precollegiate philosophy: It could help narrow the persistent gender disparity within the discipline. I catalog some of the most widely endorsed explanations for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy and argue that, on each hypothesized explanation, precollegiate philosophy instruction could help improve our discipline's gender balance. Explanations I consider include stereotype threat, gendered philosophical intuitions, inhospitable disciplinary environment, lack of same-sex role models for women students in philosophy, and conflicting (...) “schemas” for philosophy and femininity. I argue that, insofar as some combination of these hypothesized explanations accounts for some portion of the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, those of us concerned to make things better have reason to participate in and promote efforts to share philosophy with younger students. (shrink)
Slurs such as spic, slut, wetback, and whore are linguistic expressions that are primarily understood to derogate certain group members on the basis of their descriptive attributes and expressions of this kind have been considered to pack some of the nastiest punches natural language affords. Although prior scholarship on slurs has uncovered several important facts concerning their meaning and use –including that slurs are potentially offensive, are felicitously applied towards some targets yet not others, and are often flexibly used not (...) only derogatorily to convey offense towards out-group members but also non-derogatorily to convey affiliation with in-group members– the literature remains largely focused on slurs that typically target African Americans, male homosexuals, and sexually active females. Since no account of slurs that typically target Hispanics or Mexican-Americans has so far been proposed, here I offer the first systematic and empirically informed analysis of these that accounts for both their derogatory and appropriative use. Importantly, this article reviews over a dozen Spanish stereotypes and slurs and explains how the descriptive attributes involved in a stereotype associated with a slur can contribute to the predication of certain content in the application of that slur toward its target in context. This article further explains how the psychological effects of stereotype threat and stereotype lift can be initiated through the application of a relevant slur towards its target in context as well. (shrink)
We disagree with Dixon et al. by maintaining that prejudice is primarily rooted in aversive reactions toward out-group members. However, these reactions are not indicative of negative attributes, such as trait bigotry, but rather normative homophily for peers with similar perceived attributes. Cognitive biases such as stereotype threat perpetuate perceptions of inequipotential and subsequent discrimination, irrespective of individuals' personality characteristics.
Building on their important findings in The Source of the River, the authors now probe even more deeply into minority underachievement at the college level. Taming the River examines the academic and social dynamics of different ethnic groups during the first two years of college. Focusing on racial differences in academic performance, the book identifies the causes of students' divergent grades and levels of personal satisfaction with their institutions. Using survey data collected from twenty-eight selective colleges and universities, Taming the (...) River considers all facets of student life, including who students date, what fields they major in, which sports they play, and how they perceive their own social and economic backgrounds. The book explores how black and Latino students experience pressures stemming from campus racial climate and "stereotype threat"--when students underperform because of anxieties tied to existing negative stereotypes. Describing the relationship between grade performance and stereotype threat, the book shows how this link is reinforced by institutional practices of affirmative action. The authors also indicate that when certain variables are controlled, minority students earn the same grades, express the same college satisfaction, and remain in school at the same rates as white students. A powerful look at how educational policies unfold in America's universities, Taming the River sheds light on the social and racial factors influencing student success. (shrink)
Racial Battle Fatigue is described as the physical and psychological toll taken due to constant and unceasing discrimination, microagressions, and stereotype threat. This edited volume looks at RBF from the perspectives of graduate students, middle level academics, and chief diversity officers at major institutions of learning.
Racial Battle Fatigue is described as the physical and psychological toll taken due to constant and unceasing discrimination, microagressions, and stereotype threat. This edited volume looks at RBF from the perspectives of graduate students, middle level academics, and chief diversity officers at major institutions of learning.
Revonsuo proposed an intriguing and detailed evolutionary theory of dreams which stipulates that the biological function of dreaming is to simulate threatening events and to rehearse threat avoidance behaviors. The goal of the present study was to test this theory using a sample of 212 recurrent dreams that was scored using a slightly expanded version of the DreamThreat rating scale. Six of the eight hypotheses tested were supported. Among the positive findings, 66% of the recurrent dream reports contained one or (...) more threats, the threats tended to be dangerous and aimed at the dreamer, and when facing a threat, the dreamer tended to take defensive or evasive actions that were possible and reasonable. However, less than 15% of the recurrent dreams depicted realistic and probable situations critical for one’s physical survival or reproductive success and the dreamer rarely succeeded in fleeing the threat despite important and appropriate efforts. The findings thus provide mixed support for the threat simulation theory. (shrink)
In light of recent social psychological literature, I expand Miranda Fricker’s important notion of testimonial injustice. A fair portion of Fricker’s account rests on an older paradigm of stereotype and prejudice. Given recent empirical work, I argue for what I dub prescriptive credibility deficits in which a backlash effect leads to the assignment of a diminished level of credibility to persons who act in counter-stereotypic manners, thereby flouting prescriptive stereotypes. The notion of a prescriptive credibility deficit is not merely an (...) interesting conceptual addendum that can be appended to Fricker’s theory without need for further emendation. I develop the wider implications of prescriptive credibility deficits and argue that they pose a challenge to Fricker’s conception of the function of credibility assignments in conversational exchange and how a virtuous listener should respond to the potential threat of a prejudicial stereotype affecting her credibility assignments. (shrink)
We tested the new threat simulation theory of the biological function of dreaming by analysing 592 dreams from 52 subjects with a rating scale developed for quantifying threatening events in dreams. The main predictions were that dreams contain more frequent and more severe threats than waking life does; that dream threats are realistic; and that they primarily threaten the Dream Self who tends to behave in a relevant defensive manner in response to them. These predictions were confirmed and the theory (...) empirically supported. We suggest that the threat simulation theory of dreaming may have wider implications for theories about the function of consciousness. (shrink)
Zadra, Desjardins, and Marcotte tested several predictions derived from the Threat Simulation Theory of dreaming in a large sample of recurrent dreams. In response to these findings, Valli and Revonsuo presented a commentary outlining alternate conceptualizations and explanations for the results obtained. We argue that many points raised by Valli and Revonsuo do not accurately reflect our main findings and at times present a biased assessment of the data. In this article, we provide necessary clarifications and responses to each one (...) of their main points of discussion. (shrink)
The paper is an analytic retrospective of the author’s work during the preceding research period, involving the study of role, meaning and place of stereotypes in identity discourses. In order to explain the reasons for and ways of dealing with stereotypes, she reviews the evolution of her own research approach and the alternative approaches to the topic from the perspective of various scholarly disciplines. Seeking to avoid the trap of “interpreting stereotypes stereotypically”, the author chooses not to follow the usual (...) method whereby ethnic stereotypes are “deconstructed” as false and generalizing image of oneself and others, and exposed to social-psychological and political-anthropological critique. Instead, the author looks at stereotypes primarily in terms of their linguistic and social “semiotics” and their theoretical and practical usability. Stressing the necessity of relativizing the binary structure of discourse, the author argues that stereotypes, though indispensable as elements of the “economy” of language and thought, should be socially conceptualized and historicized in analysis. (shrink)