I have just listened to a lecture dealing with something referred to as a "stereotype threat." It was an incredibly interesting study, especially as I turned the entire study around and asked myself whether or not I am actually "a victim" of this myself many times. But, before I keep on asking myself those questions, let me tell you a little bit about the concept itself.
The stereotype threat - making you a stereotype victim when you try to be the opposite!
Let us say that there is a rumor spreading saying that men with bad math skills are less likely to become a good programmer than those with good math skills. This is just a stupid example I just came up with, but that is what we could call a stereotype.
Now you send a group of kids to a test in which they will decide whether they are to get a new job or not, a programming job. So far, so good!
The test consists of a test of all sorts of skills, including math skills. But, now the test objects are presented with the test in two different ways. One group just gets to know that it is a programming test, while the other group is told that it is a test of math skills related to programming.
Do you know what will happen? The group known to have trouble with math will fall into the stereotype threat and often perform much worse on the same test, simply because they fall victim of the stereotype, and they tell themselves that because it is math, they will do worse.
It might even be that they want to prove to the world that they are better than the stereotype, but often this "trying to convince the world that they are wrong" will make them do mistakes and oversee things they wouldn't miss if they had just been relaxed and paid attention to the test as they normally would.
And yes, that is an example of a stereotype threat.
What does this mean to me?
Now this is the interesting part. In fact, I loved just hearing about it myself for the sake of learning, but then I wanted to ask myself...
- Does a stereotype of myself as a stressed father often make me fall into the trap of being stressed as I try to prove the opposite?
- By trying to prove to myself that I am a good husband, will I actually fail trying to beat a stereotype that I'm not?
- Some people might say that I'm not so masculine as many other men. Will me trying to beat this stereotype of myself in my head actually make me even less masculine?
So, I do not have the answers to all these questions, but it was very interesting to listen to the lecture and now it is time for some real work... the work of growing and understanding myself in a better way!