Appraise Social-Identity Related Stressors as Challenges as Opposed to Threats


Psychologist, Carol Dweck, reported that people tend to enter achievement settings with a goal of demonstrating competence and focusing on being evaluated (a performance goal) or with a goal of developing competence and learning new skills ( a mastery goal). Research found that women who focused on mastery goals rather than performance goals felt more challenged and less threatened when anticipating an identity threatening situation (Stout and Dasgupta, 2013).


Changing the way we think about a situation, focusing on opportunity for learning and development, may help us feel confident and engaged in identity-threatening contexts. Although we cannot always prevent occurrences of discrimination, we can control our perceptions and appraisal that subsequently shape subsequent emotions and behaviors.



Question: Are you uncomfortable about a situation where you feel like you are “the only one”? How can you think about this situation as a challenge and not a threat?




Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American psychologist, 41(10), 1040.


Stout, J. G., & Dasgupta, N. (2013). Mastering One’s Destiny Mastery Goals Promote Challenge and Success Despite Social Identity Threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(6), 748-762.