Negative stereotyping makes individuals not only to do poorly in tests and skills-based activities, but also block actual learning, discovered researchers at the Indiana University.
The study 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.
"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."
The study was published on Monday (July 26) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.