Stereotype threat and working memory among surgical residents

Laurel A. Milam, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Claudia Mueller, Arghavan Salles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Stereotype threat is a situational threat in which a member of a stereotyped group fears conforming to a negative stereotype. In this study, we examined the impact of stereotype threat on surgical performance and working memory among surgical residents. Methods: Residents at one institution were randomized to either the threat condition or the no-threat condition. We administered the Vandenberg Mental Rotation Test and the reading span task to assess residents’ mental rotation and working memory, respectively. Results: 102 residents participated in this study (response rate 61%). In multivariable analysis, we found significant gender differences. Men outperformed women in mental rotation, and women outperformed men in working memory. There was no effect of condition on performance on the mental rotation or working memory test. Conclusions: No effect of condition on either test suggests that high-achieving women may be less susceptible to stereotype threat. This could be due to self-selection or adapted resilience, or women in this context may be more qualified to reach the same level of achievement as their male colleagues. This study examined the impact of stereotype threat on surgical performance and working memory among surgical residents. Residents were randomized to a stereotype threat condition or a no-threat condition. We found gender differences in both mental rotation ability, such that men outperformed women, and in working memory, such that women outperformed men. There was no significant impact on women's performance in the threat condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-829
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Volume216
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Mental rotation
  • Resident
  • Stereotype threat
  • Working memory

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