Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 471–490 | Cite as

Gender and ethnic stereotypes in student teachers’ judgments: a new look from a shifting standards perspective

  • Katharina HolderEmail author
  • Ursula Kessels


Teacher judgments of student performance might be biased by stereotypes, which can result in disadvantages for members of negatively stereotyped social groups. On the basis of the shifting standards theory, we examined gender and ethnic biases in student teachers’ judgments. According to this theory, whether such judgment biases are masked or revealed depends on the judgment context. Specifically, the use of subjective scales allows different standards of judgment to be applied to members of different social groups and should therefore mask biases, whereas the use of objective scales does not allow for a standard shift and should therefore reveal stereotyped expectations. The present studies tested predictions derived from this theory by varying the judgment context: using “educational standards” as a setting that requires objective scales and “inclusion” as a setting that employs subjective scales. Study 1 explored the stereotype that girls are not as good in mathematics as boys, Study 2 the stereotype that students of Turkish origin are not as good in German as nonimmigrants. Participants in two experimental vignette studies (Study 1: N = 155; Study 2: N = 265) were asked to evaluate the performance of a stereotyped or nonstereotyped target student in a context requiring ratings on either objective or subjective scales (2 × 2 between-subjects design). In line with the shifting standards theory, stereotyped students were evaluated similarly to nonstereotyped students on subjective scales but were evaluated more negatively on objective scales. Results indicate that student teachers’ judgments are biased by gender and ethnic stereotypes.


Shifting standards Gender stereotypes Ethnic stereotypes Teacher judgments 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and PsychologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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