Stereotype Threat and Neuropsychological Test Performance in the U.S. African American Population

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2021 Apr 7:acab020. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acab020. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: This cross-sectional study tested stereotype threat theory using the Modified-Symbol Digit Modalities Test (M-SDMT), a neurocognitive test, with the African American subsample (N = 3570) of the National Survey of American Life. The primary hypothesis is that those classified as experiencing stereotype threat will achieve the lowest scores.

METHOD: African American respondents who perceived race as a barrier to life goals and scored above the median in endorsement of negative racial stereotypes were classified as experiencing stereotype threat. M-SDMT scores were regressed on threat group classification with adjustments for gender, age, income, and education. Nonparametric test of the effect sizes for threat group classification versus demographic variables was also conducted.

RESULTS: The stereotype threat group obtained statistically significantly lower M-SDMT scores than the no threat group. However, the stereotype threat effect became nonsignificant in regression analyses adjusted for demographic variables. The nonparametric test revealed a statistically significantly larger average effect size for demographic variables than threat group classification.

CONCLUSION: The relatively less influential role of stereotype threat than other biological and social factors limit its explanatory power for racial disparities in neuropsychological test performance among African Americans.

PMID:33829241 | DOI:10.1093/arclin/acab020