Stereotype threat in mixed-sex dyadic communication
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Stereotype threat is the cognitive pressure certain individuals feel when they believe their performance on a particular task might confirm a negative stereotype about their group. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the possible negative influence of stereotype threat on mixed-sex dyadic encounters by objectively and subjectively measuring their verbal accommodation behaviors. Sex-stereotypes were manipulated (men have greater logical intelligence than women; women have greater social intelligence than men) while participants engaged in multiple mixed-sex interactions. Four patterns emerged when analyzing the presence of both objective and subjective communication accommodation behaviors. First, women were more likely than men to objectively demonstrate accommodation behaviors such as hedges, questions, fillers, and back-channel responses. Second, most participants used less accommodation behaviors over time. Third, comparing the objective and subjective expressions of accommodation behaviors revealed no relationship--in other words, people may report one thing, but third-party accounts point toward different results. Finally, the way people judge a stranger's overall character is highly correlated to their perception of his/her verbal accommodation behaviors. This dissertation concludes with future recommendations for interpersonal communication scholars interested in stereotype threat research.