Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Amy A. Hackney

Committee Member 1

Ty W. Boyer

Committee Member 2

Karen Z. Naufel

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine whether nerd stigma affects math performance. Specifically, it was hypothesized that women exposed to the nerd stigma would perform worse on a mathematics test than women not exposed to the nerd stigma. The current study also aimed to compare the effects of the nerd stigma on women’s math performance with the effects of gender stereotype threat. Gender identity, nerd identity, and fear of social exclusion were examined as possible mediating and moderating variables. Results did not support that nerd stigma affected math performance in either men or women, thus mediational analyses were not warranted. Mixed results were found for the moderator analyses. Results showed that nerd identity moderated the effect of the nerd stigma in women, unexpectedly suggesting that women high in nerd identity performed worse on the math test when exposed to the nerd stigma condition. The results also showed a stereotype boost effect for men, such that men performed better on the math exam under the gender stereotype condition. The results found in this study provide a better understanding of the relationship between nerd stigma and its effect on women’s math performance. The implication of these results is that nerd stigma effects may help to explain the gender gap in math performance and further research is warranted.

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