Playing under threat: examining stereotype threat in female game players

L Vermeulen, E Nunez Castellar, D Janssen, L Calvi, J Van Looy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The present study assesses the impact of stereotype threat on how women experience digital gaming in an evaluative context. By means of a controlled lab experiment, this study tested the effects of reinforcing stereotypical information suggesting that women are less competent players versus the effects of countering this stereotype. In doing so, game leaderboard scores were manipulated distinguishing between Stereotype Neutral (high scores without gender cues), Stereotype Boost (female-dominated high scores) and Stereotype Threat (male-dominated high scores) conditions. Results indicated that gamer identity, trait competitiveness, and playing habits modulate the experience of social identity threat. Performance and affective responses elicited by the Stereotype Threat Condition were more negatively affected in case of strongly identified gamers, highly competitive women, and/or avid players when compared with the other conditions. However, virtually no differences were observed when comparing the Stereotype Neutral and Stereotype Boost conditions. Overall, the present study demonstrates the existence of the stereotype threat mechanism and how this undermines the game experience of female players within digital game culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-387
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Digital games
  • Experiment
  • Female players
  • Gender
  • Social identity
  • Stereotype threat


Dive into the research topics of 'Playing under threat: examining stereotype threat in female game players'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this