Concerns About Generalizing Stereotype Threat Research Findings to Operational High-stakes Testing

Paul R. Sackett, Ann Marie Ryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


The vast majority of stereotype threat research has been done in laboratory settings, and the focus of the chapter is on generalizing findings to the use of cognitive ability tests in high-stakes settings, such as personnel selection and admission for higher education. We first discuss some mischaracterization of the research findings on stereotype threat. Next, we discuss concerns regarding the generalizability of research findings to operational testing contexts, focusing on the degree to which boundary conditions for the experience of stereotype threat are met in high-stakes settings, and on the possibility of overcoming the inhibitory effects of experienced threat in high-stakes settings. We then review the limited existing research conducted in operational settings, including experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational studies. Our assessment is that research to date has not provided evidence of consistent and replicable threat effects in high-stakes settings, and that more research in operational testing settings is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStereotype Threat
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Process, and Application
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918508
ISBN (Print)9780199732449
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012


  • Academic performance
  • Black-white test score gap
  • Intervention
  • Male-female science gap
  • Stereotype threat


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