Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Garcia, Donna


Research has produced conflicting results in terms of whether positive stereotypes enhance or impair the performance of individuals who have both positively- and negatively-stereotyped identities. Shih, Pittinsky, and Ambady (1999) found that relative to a no identity control group, Asian women performed better on a mathematics test when their positively-stereotyped identity was salient (i.e., ethnicity) but worse when their negatively-stereotyped identity was salient (i.e., gender). In contrast, Cheryan and Bodenhausen (2000) found that both positive and negative identity salience in Asian women led to reduced performance relative to a no identity control group. In the current study, I aimed to examine a potential reason for this discrepant finding. In a sample of Latino men, I further examined how cues that make people aware of their gender or ethnic identities might influence their performance on a mathematics test, depending on whether the salient identity was positively or negatively stereotyped in mathematics. I argued that the discrepancy in findings between Shih et al. and Cheryan and Bodenhausen was due to differences in the manipulation they used, that is, the former induced intergroup comparisons and the latter induced intragroup comparisons. I expected that gender salience using the “Shih” method would lead to better performance on a mathematics test whereas gender salience with the “Cheryan” method would lead to worse performance. Results can have important implications for understanding the consequences of positive stereotypes and their effect, depending on the direction of the comparison.