Graduation Year

Fall 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Craig Bowman

Rights Information

© 2013 Joseph R. Liekweg


This paper investigates the literature on stereotype threat theory. Looking for an explanation for achievement gaps in standardized testing and mathematics, Claude Steele and Elliot Aronson conducted a study in 1995 which introduced the term “stereotype threat” to the psychological community. It was hypothesized by Steele and Aronson that stereotype threat is cause by the anxiety that results from a fear of conforming to a negative stereotype that directly affects an individual in a domain with which they identify. Stereotype threat can have extremely detrimental effects on individuals. Since the original study in 1995, numerous studies have been conducted to further address gender and racial achievement gaps. Some of the studies have yielded results in support of Steele’s theory, and some have called into questions certain aspects of Steele’s theory. This paper specifically analyses Steele’s theory and its ability to stand up against specific criticisms.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.