Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Second Advisor

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman

Third Advisor

Ronald Karren

Subject Categories



Three experiments integrated insights from achievement goal theory, social identity threat, and stress and coping research, to develop a theory-based strategy individuals can use to navigate social identity threat in high stakes achievement settings. In all experiments women were asked to adopt a mastery goal (focus on learning and building skills) or a performance goal (perform well; avoid errors) before a mock job interview. In Experiment 1, women expected their interviewer to be either sexist (creating identity threatening situation) or not sexist (a non-threatening situation). Women who focused on mastery rather than performance goals felt more challenged and less threatened while anticipating a job interview in an identity threatening situation; goals did not affect their appraisals of a non-threatening interview. Moreover, women who focused on mastery rather than performance intended to be more assertive (Experiment 2) and ultimately performed better in the interview (Experiment 3). Mediational analyses showed that a focus on mastery led women to appraise the identity threatening situation as a challenge they could overcome rather than a threat they were helpless to combat; challenge, in turn, enhanced performance.


Included in

Psychology Commons