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KeywordsStereotype Threat Unique Functional Roles Image Repair Social-personality Psychology Intergroup Context
Toni Schmader holds a Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is a personality-social psychologist with expertise in social stigma, stereotyping and prejudice, and emotion and self-regulation.
Early Life and Educational Background
Schmader was born on March 31, 1972, in Lucinda, Pennsylvania, a rural town of just 2000 people. She earned her BA in Psychology at Washington and Jefferson College in 1994. After spending 1 year in the PhD program in Social Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Schmader transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara, to complete her doctorate in 1999 under the supervision of Brenda Major. She has held visiting appointments at Harvard University and the University of Aix-Marseille.
Schmader joined the faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona in 1999 and was awarded tenure in 2005. In 2009, she moved north to Canada to the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, where she is the Director of the Social Identity Laboratory. She has published several dozen articles appearing in outlets such as Psychological Review, Personality and Social Psychology Review, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Psychological Science. Her research has been continuously funded for over 15 years with grants totaling more than $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Dr. Schmader has given frequent public lectures on the topic of implicit gender bias including talks to the National Academies of Science in the United States, as part of Harvard’s Women in Work Series, and at the International Gender Summit. She was the recipient of a Killam Research Prize in 2013. She is both a fellow and has held elected positions in the Society for Experimental Social Psychology and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. She has also held associate editorships at the Journal for Personality and Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Social groups profoundly define who we are and how we view others. Schmader’s research examines how people are affected by negatively stereotyped or tarnished identities. Her research has broadly centered around three themes: (1) How are people affected by the threat of being negatively stereotyped? (2) What role do social identities play in the domains people choose or value? and (3) What motivational function does shame serve in both personal and intergroup contexts?
On the first question, Schmader’s sustained program of research on stereotype threat has uncovered an integrated series of core cognitive, affective, and motivational mechanisms that can explain why the threat of being evaluated through the lens of a negative stereotype can undermine performance. In addition to identifying key mediators and moderators of this phenomenon, termed stereotype threat, Schmader’s more recent work examines how stereotype threat is experienced and reduced in interpersonal contexts, especially as applied to women working in science and technology fields.
Second, Schmader has carried out research to examine the role of group stereotypes and social stigma in determining the domains into which people self-select. This work has revealed the role of social status in creating asymmetries in what domains are valued and the role of gender stereotypes in maintaining gender segregation across different roles.
Finally, Schmader and her colleagues have examined shame as a distinct negative emotion whose social functions have often been overlooked. Their work has identified why people would feel ashamed, rather than guilty, for another person’s actions. They have also isolated a unique functional role that shame might play in the motivation for self-change and image repair.
- Inzlicht, M., & Schmader, T. (Eds.). (2012). Stereotype threat: Theory, process, and application. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar