Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Research Articles

Effects of Stereotype Threat, Perceived Discrimination, and Examiner Race on Neuropsychological Performance: Simple as Black and White?

April D. Thamesa1 c1, Charles H. Hinkina1a2, Desiree A. Byrda3, Robert M. Bildera1, Kimberley J. Duffa4, Monica Rivera Mindta3a5, Alyssa Arentofta1a2 and Vanessa Streiffa2

a1 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

a2 Department of Psychology, Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California

a3 Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York

a4 Department of Psychology, Cerritos College, Norwalk, California

a5 Department of Psychology, Fordham University, New York, New York


The purpose of the current study was to examine the predictive roles of stereotype threat and perceived discrimination and the mediating role of examiner-examinee racial discordance on neuropsychological performance in a non-clinical sample of African American and Caucasian individuals. Ninety-two African American (n = 45) and Caucasian (n = 47) adults were randomly assigned to either a stereotype threat or non-threat condition. Within each condition, participants were randomly assigned to either a same race or different race examiner. All participants underwent neuropsychological testing and completed a measure of perceived discrimination. African Americans in the stereotype threat condition performed significantly worse on global NP (Mz = −.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] [−0.07, −0.67] than African Americans in the non-threat condition (Mz = 0.09, CI [0.15, 0.33]. African Americans who reported high levels of perceived discrimination performed significantly worse on memory tests when tested by an examiner of a different race, Mz = −1.19, 95% CI [−1.78, −.54], than African Americans who were tested by an examiner of the same race, Mz = 0.24, 95% CI [−0.24, 0.72]. The current study underscores the importance of considering the role of contextual variables in neuropsychological performance, as these variables may obscure the validity of results among certain racial/ethnic groups. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–10)

(Received September 17 2012)

(Revised January 04 2013)

(Accepted January 07 2013)

(Online publication February 07 2013)


  • Stereotype threat;
  • Performance anxiety;
  • Neuropsychology;
  • Perceived discrimination;
  • Examiner-examinee racial discordance;
  • Ethnicity


c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: April D. Thames, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, 740 Westwood Plaza C8-746, Los Angeles, CA 90095. E-mail: