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Stigma as Ego Depletion

            In the empirical article, "Stigma as Ego Depletion: How Being the Target of Prejudice Affects Self-Control," writers Michael Inzlicht, Linda McKay, and Joshua Aronson researched the correlation between stigma and self-regulation. They hypothesize that stigmatized groups have less self-control capabilities than non-stigmatized groups in situations where the stigma is present. In this study, stigmatized groups are defined as groups perceived to have devalued characteristics in social contexts and self-control capabilities is broadly defined as the cognitive effort that monitors behavior, such as control over eating and drinking, showing emotions, etc. .
             Researchers examined the effect of stigma on stigmatized members vs. non-stigmatized members in a stigma-manipulated situation to see if stigmatized members who enter a threatening situation or become conscious of the stigma are less able to self-regulate in both the stigma-related situation and non-stigma-related domains. If stigmatized members believe they are in a situation where the stigma is present, he or she may be subject to stereotype threat. Stereotype threat refers to a state of threat (e.g., tension, anxiety, fear) that arises when stigmatized members believe they will confirm negative group stereotypes or be treated and judged in terms of it. .
             The study was broken down into three separate studies meant to expand and clarify from each previous study. For this critique, however, only Study 3 will be directly described. After studying participants from the African American group, Study 3 looked at another stigmatized group, women, to see if the experiment would work regardless of what group was studied. Examining the effect of stigma on physical self-regulation, rather than attentional self-regulation in Study 2, researchers tested to see if a participant's performance on a physical task diminishes after priming the subject of the associated stereotype (in this case, the stereotype was women are bad at math).

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