First Advisor

Robert Roeser

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Stereotypes (Social psychology), Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, Academic achievement -- Psychological aspects




Although stereotype threat – pressure to avoid confirming or being judged based on a stereotype – has been found to affect performance on an array of tasks, few studies have examined ways to alleviate the threat after it has been activated. Previous research has demonstrated several outcomes of mindfulness exercises - increased emotional regulation, increased attentional regulation, change in perspective of self, and greater resources available to devote to learning – which parallel four potential mechanisms for stereotype threat: anxiety and SNS arousal, decreased working memory capacity, mindset, and effort. The present study tested the impact of two interventions - a 10-minute meditation practice and 10-minutes spent listening to relaxation music - on female math test performance in a stereotype threat situation. Participants were asked to indicate gender and the number of math courses they had taken in order to activate the "men are better than women at math" stereotype, then listened to music or meditation instructions for 10 minutes before filling taking a 20-item test consisting of sample GRE questions. After the test, a 17 item survey was administered in order to evaluate potential mediators. Results showed that (a) participants receiving the mindfulness intervention scored higher on the math test than participants who received no intervention after activation; and (b) participants receiving both the mindfulness and relaxation interventions reported putting forth greater effort on the math test than participants who received no intervention.


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