Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Neuroscience and Behavior

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jennifer M. McDermott

Subject Categories

Other Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Social Psychology


A promising intervention technique for stereotype threat effects is the stereotype inoculation model (SIM), which utilizes in-group role models to counteract stereotype-induced pressures. However, it remains unclear how the SIM may impact neural mechanisms during stereotype threat, including negative feedback bias (increased attention to undesirable feedback). The following three studies aim to examine the behavioral (Study 1) and neural (Study 2) markers of ST in women and how these markers are influenced by the SIM (Study 3). In each study, participants completed a non-traditional math task (the approximate number task). In the first two studies, one group was told the task was a measure of math intelligence (stereotype threat), while the other group was told it measured creative ability (non-threat). Study 1 focused on the behavioral impact of implicit ST including performance on the task, as well as motivation to continue with the task, and confidence within the task. Men and women were both included as participants. ST negatively impacted motivation to continue the task in women, but not men. In addition, higher math identification related to lower immediate task performance, but higher task confidence and motivation for women in the ST condition. Study 2 explored the neural mechanisms underlying implicit ST in women, particularly focusing on performance monitoring measured using event-related potentials (ERPs) to assess performance processing. Waveforms associated with internal response-monitoring were negatively impacted by ST as evidenced by inefficient response-monitoring and more conscious focus on errors. In Study 3, all participants were told the task measured math ability, and groups were given difference biographies to read prior to task completion. The biography conditions were 1) consistent with stereotype threat (male mathematicians), 2) the SIM (female mathematicians) and 3) a non-threat collection (mixed-gender artists). The SIM condition impacted the participants’ perception of the task, such that anxious women viewed it as more of a game, whereas participants in the ST condition perceived the task as a test. Women in the SIM condition also exhibited greater neural reactivity to correct responses prior to the onset of external feedback, and less overall neural reactivity to external feedback cues.