Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Joel Martin


Previous research suggests that the placebo effect — the tendency for people to improve following a sham treatment — is pervasive in many contexts: people who expect to get better typically do regardless of the malady. Similarly, stereotype threat — the tendency for members of minority groups to demonstrate performance impairment when confronted with the stereotype — is also pervasive. While both phenomena are well-established and robust, no previous research has examined whether placebo can be used to limit the effect of stereotype threat. The present study seeks to do just that. By priming women in a laboratory setting to highlight the pervasive cultural stereotype that women are bad at math, and administering placebo medication, I hoped that I would find that the performance deficit experienced by stereotyped women was diminished. When the placebo treatment is applied, I hoped to counter the negative effects in conditions where both phenomena are present. The results of the study did not provide evidence to support my hypothesis; placebo effect does not appear to mediate stereotype threat.

Included in

Psychology Commons