Stereotype Threat in Organizations: An Examination of its Scope, Triggers, and Possible Interventions



This chapter explores stereotype threat in organizational contexts. Building on the understanding that stereotype threat involves concerns about confirming a negative stereotype about one’s group, we begin by elucidating the scope of potential stereotype threat effects in organizations. We first examine the ubiquity of evaluations in organizations, which are at the heart of stereotype threat. Next we specify the potential psychological consequences of stereotype threat on targeted individuals within organizations, including weakening domain identification and engagement, reducing aspirations, increasing self-handicapping, and reducing openness to feedback. In the next section we focus on specific performance consequences of stereotype threat in four domains: leadership, negotiations, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness. We follow by identifying the likely triggers of stereotype threat within organizations, including task difficulty, organizational structure, minority representation, and organizational culture. Finally, we identify three categories of strategies that organizations can implement to reduce stereotype threat: 1) stereotype management, which includes acknowledging stereotypes, emphasizing positive stereotypes, and deemphasizing negative stereotypes; 2) hiring and training, which includes increasing minority representation and job training; and 3) organizational culture, including both fostering identity safety and valuing effort.