New paper on stereotypes about Christians and science performance in press at SPPS
Our new research paper, Negative Stereotypes Cause Christians to Underperform in and Disidentify with Science, with collaborators Kimberly Rios and Rebecca Trotton, and CaML members Zhen Cheng and Azim Shariff is now in press at Social and Personality Psychological Science. The paper shows how negative stereotypes about Christians’ performance in science can actually diminish their performance at analytical tasks and sap their interest in and identification with science. This has pernicious consequences for Christian students interested in science, and for science literacy in the US as a whole. The in press draft of the paper is available here and the abstract is appended below:
Despite Christians being a religious majority in the U.S., relatively few pursue higher education and careers in science. Our studies show that stereotypes about Christians being less competent in science than other groups are recognized by both Christians and non-Christians, and are openly endorsed by non-Christians (Study 1). Our studies further demonstrate that when these stereotypes become salient, Christians are less interested in and identified with science (Study 2), and underperform on science-relevant tasks (Studies 3-5), compared to non-Christians. Even subtle contextual cues that bear more or less relevance to science are sufficient to compromise Christians’ scientific task performance, particularly among the highly religious (Study 5). When these stereotypes are explicitly removed, however, performance differences between Christians and non- Christians disappear. These results suggest that Christians’ awareness of the negative societal stereotypes about their group’s scientific competence may be partially responsible for the underperformance and underrepresentation of Christians in scientific fields.