The impact of inter-group conflict on stereotype threat or lift.
Stereotype threat and lift occur when a negative or positive group stereotype results in a shift in task performance for group members. Social identity theory (SIT) explains that the socio-structural variables influence the group members’ strategy to maintain a positive group identity and predicts that perceived intergroup conflict would interact with status to affect their experience of the stereotype and potentially impact on stereotype threat and lift on test performance. The experimental design manipulated the task-related group status of science students (assigning 122 students to high status, low status or control conditions) and their perceived intergroup conflict (high and low) with an out-group of humanities students whom they believed to be real but were actually simulated. The high and low status were manipulated using test instructions that activated the stereotype that the science group compared a humanities group either possessed an analytic cognitive ability that was required for test performance and post degree success (high status) or possessed an alternate flexible cognitive ability that was not required for post degree success (low status); whilst the status control condition excluded a diagnostic comparison of cognitive ability. The inter-group conflict and cooperation were experimentally manipulated by presenting hostile or cooperative feedback using intergroup matrices adapted from Tajfel (1981) in a computer simulated interaction with a virtual humanities out-group. The change in status (stereotype threat and lift) and conflict were measured using the Ravens Advanced Progressive matrices (APM) which was presented as the test of performance which measured post degree success. The APM was used as a dependent measure of the group level stereotype-related differences in performance for high conflict-threat, high conflict lift, high conflict control, low conflict threat, low conflict lift and low conflict control conditions. The results showed that status and conflict interact to impact on test performance outcomes of the science students. Specifically, the change in stereotype threat is reversed when science students receive cooperative feedback from the humanities out-group.