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Olga Gulevich1, Ekaterina Orel1, Margarita Burova
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Why Psychologists Don’t Know Math? The Influence of Actualization of Professional Stereotypes on Solving Math Problems

2017. Vol. 14. No. 1. P. 88–104 [issue contents]

Stereotype threat is an important factor influencing educational and professional achievements. Stereotypes are the origin of this threat that emphasize the inability of members of a social group to solve specific problems. In this study we analyzed the influence of stereotypes about psychologists ("Psychologists are not good at math") on the attitudes of students-psychologists to a statistics course and the quality of their solutions of mathematical tasks. We have suggested that the actualization of the students’ stereotype threat could worsen their attitudes to the statistics course and reduce the quality of solutions of mathematical tasks. However, this influence depends on the personal resources possessed by students: a person with higher self-efficacy and resilience (hardiness) could be less exposed to negative stereotypes. The study involved 94 psychology students, who had recently started a study of statistics. Members of one experimental group were exposed to a stereotype threat, and the other group was not. We actualized the negative stereotypes of the members of the first group: they were told that according to different studies psychologists solve mathematical problems worse than people of other professions. At the same time we didn’t actualize the stereotype threat for the members of the second group. After that, all participants filled in the questionnaire for measuring self-efficacy, resilience, attitude toward statistics and solved some math tasks. According to the hypothesis, the study results showed that the stereotype threat actually reduces the efficiency of solution of mathematical tasks and worsens the attitudes to statistics. However, this influence is mediated by self-efficacy, and by one component of resilience — commitment.

Citation: Gulevich O., Orel E., Burova M. (2017) Why Psychologists Don’t Know Math? The Influence of Actualization of Professional Stereotypes on Solving Math Problems. Psychology. Journal of Higher School of Economics, 14(1), 88-104 (in Russian)
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