Embodied Stereotype Threat
Exploring Brain and Body Mechanisms Underlying Performance Impairments
In this chapter, we explore brain and body mechanisms that link the experience of stereotype threat to changes in cognitive and behavioral performance. We begin by identifying a model of causal sequences of stereotype threat: psychological states associated with stereotype threat, neurobiological responses triggered by these psychological states, and cognitive and behavioral outcomes that are influenced by the neurobiological states. We explore this theoretical path analysis throughout the chapter, focusing on two broad psychological states often implicated in stereotype-threat processes: stress arousal and vigilance. To explore stress arousal as an explanation for stereotype threat performance effects, we highlight the biology underlying stress systems, stress typologies, and temporal trajectories of stress responses. We highlight how these neurobiological changes can influence cognitive and behavioral outcomes, and review existing stereotype threat research that explores these neurobiological responses. We then examine the broad category of vigilance in stereotype threat processes, and again highlight extant stereotype threat literature exploring neurobiological changes associated with vigilance. The intent of the chapter is to provide a neurobiological framework to assist stereotype threat researchers in identifying possible brain and body mechanisms that may be directly or indirectly implicated in performance changes engendered by stereotype threat.
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