Men tend to achieve higher response accuracy than women on surveys of political knowledge. We investigated the possibility that this performance gap is moderated by factors that render the communicative context of a survey intellectually threatening to women and thereby induce stereotype threat. In a telephone survey of college students' political knowledge, we manipulated two factors of the survey context: the alleged diagnosticity of the question set (i.e., whether it was portrayed as being sensitive to potential gender differences) and the gender of the interviewer. Consistent with previous studies of political knowledge, men scored higher than women overall. However, as predicted, this difference was reliably moderated by the manipulated factors. Women's scores were not reliably different from men's when the survey was portrayed as nondiagnostic and when women were interviewed by female interviewers. Diagnosticity and interviewer gender had no effects on men's scores. Consistent with previous research on stereotype threat, these results suggest that explicit and implicit cues reminding women of the possibility that they might confirm a negative gender stereotype can impair their retrieval of political knowledge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)