Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jason T. Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Allen M. Omoto

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Marilynn Brewer

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Lindsay Quarles


identity, self-affirmation, social identity complexity, stereotype threat


Stereotype threat is the fear of confirming as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype associated with a specific social identity that can hinder performance (Steele & Aronson, 1995). It is hypothesized that one way to protect against stereotype threat is to increase the availability of salient non-threatened identities (Croizet et al., 2001). Social identity complexity (SIC) is a theoretical construct that refers to the nature of the subjective representation of multiple ingroup identities (Brewer, 2008; Roccas & Brewer, 2002). The main hypothesis was that possessing a more complex social identity will provide protection against stereotype threat by providing increased availability of salient non-threatened identities. The findings of the three studies yielded contrasting results. With no consistent evidence, the conclusion is that there was too much variation introduced in the study due to the setting being largely removed from the stereotype relevant educational context. Additional analysis revealed that most African Americans indicated their race as the most or second most important aspect of their identity, indicating that racial identity is dominant and likely inextricably linked to their other identities. This finding suggests that the hypothesis of turning to another unthreatened identity is unlikely to ever buffer the effects of stereotype threat for African Americans when the identity under threat is their race. Ancillary analysis revealed self-affirmation to be effective in increasing test performance among African American participants, but this trend was the opposite for Latinx participants. Although these three studies could not definitively test the hypotheses, ancillary analyses revealed significant differences in identity attributable to race while controlling for survey location, suggesting that more research needs to be done to explore identity organization of racial minority members and how this impacts their experience of identity threat.