Study: Stereotyping Can Inhibit Learning

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., July 26 (UPI) — Groups facing negative stereotypes often do poorly in tests and skill-based acts but the stereotyping might also be inhibiting actual learning, a study says.

A study at Indiana University suggests the effects of being stigmatized with negative stereotypes might have effects earlier in people’s lives than previously thought — when skills are learned, and not just later as they are performed — a university release said Monday.

“The effect on learning could be cumulative,” said social psychologist Robert J. Rydell, whose research focuses on how negative stereotypes of women affect their involvement in mathematics.

“If women do not learn relatively simple skills early on, this could spell trouble for them later on when they need to combine a number of more simple skills in new, complicated ways to solve difficult problems,” Rydell said.

“For example, if a young girl does not learn a relatively simple principle of algebra or how to divide fractions because she is experiencing (negative stereotype) threat,” he said, “this may hurt her when she has to use those skills to complete problems on geometry, trigonometry, or calculus tests.”

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