Stereotype Threat Effects in Settings With Features Likely Versus Unlikely in Operational Test Settings: A Meta-Analysis

Oren R. Shewach, Paul R. Sackett, Sander Quint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The stereotype threat literature primarily comprises lab studies, many of which involve features that would not be present in high-stakes testing settings. We meta-analyze the effect of stereotype threat on cognitive ability tests, focusing on both laboratory and operational studies with features likely to be present in high stakes settings. First, we examine the features of cognitive ability test metric, stereotype threat cue activation strength, and type of nonthreat control group, and conduct a focal analysis removing conditions that would not be present in high stakes settings. We also take into account a previously unrecognized methodological error in how data are analyzed in studies that control for scores on a prior cognitive ability test, which resulted in a biased estimate of stereotype threat. The focal sample, restricting the database to samples utilizing operational testing-relevant conditions, displayed a threat effect of d = -.14 ( k = 45, N = 3,532, SD δ = .31). Second, we present a comprehensive meta-analysis of stereotype threat. Third, we examine a small subset of studies in operational test settings and studies utilizing motivational incentives, which yielded d-values ranging from .00 to -.14. Fourth, the meta-analytic database is subjected to tests of publication bias, finding nontrivial evidence for publication bias. Overall, results indicate that the size of the stereotype threat effect that can be experienced on tests of cognitive ability in operational scenarios such as college admissions tests and employment testing may range from negligible to small. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Meta-analysis
  • Personnel selection
  • Standardized testing
  • Stereotype threat
  • Subgroup differences

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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