Stereotype threat is the term used to describe the way that we play into stereo-types we believe we belong to.. So things such as making fun of certain groups, making statements about girls not being good at math's, or boys not being emotional, can cause a rise in anxiety and stress, reducing academic or workplace performance.
It is one of the most studied aspects of social psychology - where we try to understand why certain groups of people may struggle to prove themselves different, and yet, then do the opposite.
Essentially, as long as a negative stereotype exists for a particular group and this negative stereotype is present that group’s members will likely feel a measure of anxiety which can prevent them from performing at their optimal level. And also subconsciously adhering to the belief of the stereotype.
Stereotype threat recently shown up in Canberra when a member of parliament resigned over bullying and intimidation allegations… and she was met with comments such as “Needs to roll with the punches” or “You need to toughen up” When in fact, it takes an enormous amount of courage to call out bullying and intimidation in the workplace.
What happens is that people then hold back from reporting incidents such as this for fear of being seen as a victim, and those who perpetrate the bullying just continue to exhibit the same type of behaviour.
Speaker, Author and Life Strategist Sally Thibault joined me on the Drive Home to discuss this topic.