Trust your abilities more than the stereotype: Effect of gender-stereotype threat and task difficulty on word production, clustering, and switching in letter fluency

Wulandari S., Hendrawan D.

Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, 16424, Indonesia


Gender-stereotype threat consistently accounts for underperformance phenomena experienced by women on male-stereotyped cognitive tasks. However, only a few studies have examined how the threat is affecting performance on female-stereotyped cognitive tasks, such as letter fluency. The present study examined whether variations in the cues to activate stereotype threat and the level of task difficulty would affect the letter fluency performance of undergraduate men and women (n = 168) and the underlying cognitive processes of this performance (i.e., switching, clustering). The results indicated participants held beliefs about women’s superiority in this task. However, threat-activation cues did not affect production of correct words, errors, clustering, or switching in men and women. Task difficulty affected the number of correct words, yet it did not interact with the stereotype threat-activation cues. Finally, participants’ actual performance was related to their self-rating perception about their ability instead of the stereotyping they perceived. The effect of self-efficacy, educational level, and individuals’ susceptibilities should be taken into account when studying the effects of stereotype threat. © Universiti Putra Malaysia Press

Clustering; Gender-stereotype threat; Letter fluency; Switching; Task difficulty


Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities

Publisher: Universiti Putra Malaysia

Volume 28, Issue 4, Art No , Page 2567 – 2588, Page Count

Journal Link:

doi: 10.47836/PJSSH.28.4.05

Issn: 01287702

Type: All Open Access, Bronze


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