Stereotype threat occurs when belonging to a stereotyped group impairs performance on activities said to require the stereotyped ability (Steele & Aronson, 1995). This can happen through decreased performance on testing and increased anxiety. The Field-Specific Ability Belief (FAB) hypothesis posits that women and Blacks are underrepresented in fields that are believed to require brilliance. When combined with cultural stereotype that these groups are less intelligent, these “brilliance-required” messages may discourage members of stereotyped groups (Bian, Leslie, & Cimpian, 2017; Leslie, Cimpian, Meyer, & Freeland, 2015; Meyer, Cimpian, & Leslie, 2015; Storage, Horne, Cimpian, & Leslie, 2016).This study investigated stereotype threat as a mechanism of the FAB Hypothesis on children’s working memory. Thirty-Five children between the ages of 6 to 9 were tested at Cornerstone Elementary School in Wooster, Ohio. The children were tested using a model study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Cognitive Development Lab. In our main condition, children were primed to think about race and were told they had to be really smart to complete a task (a performance measure of working memory). We hypothesized that the results would follow the FAB hypothesis: Black children who were racially primed would have lower scores on the working memory task than Black children in the control condition (who were not primed). The results of our preliminary investigation did not support this prediction, but revisions have been made to this initial study and testing on this revised study is under way.


Thompson, Claudia




Child Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology


Stereotype Threat, Mindset, Field-Specific Ability Beliefs

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Jason E. Solinsky