Eclectic Grounds

conflicts and conversation

Negative group stereotypes: A self-fulfilling prophecy

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Reminding individuals of a negative stereotype about their social group decreases their confidence, their performance, and ultimately creates a situation where the stereotype becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is suggested by Allen McConnell’s and Sian Beilock’s research, which they present in the video below.

While the research presented here focuses mainly on steretypes against women, the results also add to the debate on the educational achievements of other social groups. The German weekly Der Spiegel, for example, remarks in a report on a recent study on the educational attainments of immigrant groups in Germany that:

If your name is Ümit rather than Hans or Gülcan rather than Grete, you’re less likely to climb the career ladder. Some 30 percent of Turkish immigrants and their children don’t have a school leaving certificate, and only 14 percent do their Abitur, as the degree from Germany’s top-level high schools is called — that’s half the average of the German population.

The study draws a complex picture, yet “low prestige, negative stereotypes and lack of role models” are central features in the explanation of the results.

Negative stereotyping and its ugly consequences are not easily fought off. An example: last week, a prominent social democratic (!) politician stated that “a large number of Arabs and Turks in [Berlin] have no productive function except selling fruit and vegetables”. A sad state of affairs…


Written by henrik

October 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm

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