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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Stereotypes (Social psychology), Executive functions (Neuropsychology), Gender identity, Girls-Psychology, Threat (Psychology), Stereotype, Threat, Gender, Executive function, Children


The current study aimed to explore the effects of gender-related stereotype threat (ST) on executive functioning (EF) performance of young girls (N = 20, M = 6.63 years) as measured by the Tower of Hanoi (TOH) task. In order to induce a ST context, one group of participants (ST) had their gender identity emphasized immediately before they were assessed on the EF task (ST condition). The other group participated in a non-threat condition in which they completed the same EF task but with no prior identity activation (NT condition). A main effect of condition on speed (seconds/move) emerged such that participants in the ST condition performed slower than those in the non-threat condition (N = 14) on the first round of the task. This finding suggests that ST may affect the cognitive strategy that girls chose to employ during this type of EF task. However, condition did not significantly affect total time to complete the task, number of moves made to complete the tower, or accuracy. Participants also improved in time, number of moves, and speed across the five rounds of the TOH task, regardless of condition. Overall, the current study provides preliminary evidence for subtle effects of gender related ST on EF task performance in young girls and underscores the need for further research on this topic.




43 pages : color illustrations. Honors project-Smith College, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 39-43)