Social identity threat in interpersonal relationships: Activating negative stereotypes decreases social approach motivation.

Research has shown that social identity threat can have a broad variety of negative consequences. However, not much is known about the consequences of social identity threat on interpersonal relationships. In the present research, we hypothesize that experiencing social identity threat decreases people’s social approach motivation toward other people related to the stereotyped domain. Specifically, we manipulated social identity threat by activating negative stereotypes about women in math. As math is an important aspect of the academic self-concept, female university students who are confronted with a negative math stereotype should experience threat toward their identity as university students. We then tested whether this threat affected female students’ motivation to approach other university students and whether the effect was mediated by a reduced sense of belonging to the university. Data from 478 participants, assessed in three experimental (Study 1a: N = 79, Study 1b: N = 164, Study 2: N = 100) and one correlational study (Study 3: N = 135), mainly supported these hypotheses. We conclude that social identity threat can be detrimental to the quality of people’s social lives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)