Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
First Committee Member
Cameron, C. Daryl
Second Committee Member
Clark, Jason K.
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Windschitl, Paul D.
People commonly seek out role models when they want to achieve their goals because role models help people believe that success is possible and demonstrate how to achieve it. Because seeking out role models is a common occurrence, a great deal of research has been devoted to understanding the effects that they can have on those who look up to them. One effect that has not been previously examined is the extent to which role models can affect people’s certainty in their previous performance perceptions. Evaluative certainty is often increased for people when their performance perceptions are confirmed by the presence of a congruent stereotype: a phenomenon known as stereotype validation. Stereotype validation has been shown to effect women within stereotypically male domains. Importantly, higher evaluative certainty predicts negative downstream outcomes for these women, including lower beliefs in their math ability and reduced expectations for a future math performance. The goal of the current research was to investigate whether the salience of female role models reduces or enhances women’s evaluative certainty following stereotype validation. Four studies reveal partial support for the certainty reduction hypothesis. Stereotype-validated women are less certain of their poor performance perceptions when they are exposed to female role models.
Because people frequently seek out role models, a great deal of research has examined the effects that they can have on those who look up to them. One effect that has not been previously studied is the extent to which role models can affect people’s certainty in their previous performance perceptions.
During a process called stereotype validation, people who perform poorly on a task (e.g., an academic test) become more certain that their performance was poor when they are afterwards reminded of a stereotype that supports this perception. For example, when a woman performs poorly on a math test, she will be more certain that she performed poorly if, after the test, she is reminded of the stereotype that women are bad at math. Because the stereotype fits with her perception that she performed poorly on the math test, she should be more certain that her performance was indeed poor. Importantly, when a woman is certain of her poor performance, she is less likely to believe in her math abilities and less likely to believe that she could perform well on a future math test.
The goal of the current research was to investigate whether women become less or more certain that they performed poorly after they read about female role models who have performed well in a stereotyped domain. The current research found that women become less certain in their poor performance after looking up to a female role model.
xii, 118 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 113-118).
Copyright © 2016 Kelsey Thiem
Thiem, Kelsey. "Gender stereotypes and academic performance : the influence of salient role models on stereotype validation." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2016.