Threatened to distraction: Mind-wandering as a consequence of stereotype threat

TitleThreatened to distraction: Mind-wandering as a consequence of stereotype threat
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMrazek M., Chin J.M., Schmader T., Hartson K.A, Smallwood J., Schooler J.W
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology

Two experiments tested the hypothesis that the threat of a negative stereotype increases the frequency of mind-wandering (i.e., task-unrelated thought), thereby leading to performance impairments. Study 1 demonstrated that participants anticipating a stereotype-laden test mind-wandered more during the Sustained Attention to Response Task. Study 2 assessed mind-wandering directly using thought sampling procedures during a demanding math test. Results revealed that individuals experiencing stereotype threat experienced more off-task thoughts, which accounted for their poorer test performance compared to a control condition. These studies highlight the important role that social forces can have on mind-wandering. More specifically, these results serve as evidence for task-unrelated thought as a novel mechanism for stereotype threat-induced performance impairments