Quotation Dinhof, Katharina, Willems, Jurgen. 2021. The threat of appearing lazy, inefficient, and slow: Stereotype threat in public sector jobs. European Group for Public Administration (EGPA), Brüssel, Belgien, 07.09.-10.09.




Public servants are often stereotyped as being lazy, inefficient, and slow. When made aware of such stereotypes, they may fear confirming the stereotype and overstrain cognitive resources. We conduct a 2 (Negative stereotype information) × 2 (Public sector task relevance) between-subject experiment to investigate the impact on task performance of stereotype threat in the public sector. In total, 1,147 respondents were randomly assigned to neutral or negative stereotype information before working on tasks that were either relevant or irrelevant for the public sector, where task performance was measured by task correctness and processing time. We additionally tested effects on conscientiousness, motivation, and self-efficacy. Against assumptions, the stereotype threat effect is not supported: Respondents, who received the negative stereotype information and worked on a task relevant for the public sector, are equally performative than respondents with no negative stereotype information and/or worked on an irrelevant task. As our results do not confirm stereotype threat effects for public sector professions, we frame our findings in the growing literature on public sector stereotypes and anti-public sector bias, in order to postulate avenues for theory development and future research.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Paper presented at an academic conference or symposium
Language English
Title The threat of appearing lazy, inefficient, and slow: Stereotype threat in public sector jobs
Event European Group for Public Administration (EGPA)
Year 2021
Date 07.09.-10.09.
Country Belgium
Location Brüssel
URL https://www.egpa-conference2021.org/th.php


Dinhof, Katharina (Details)
Willems, Jurgen (Details)
Institute for Public Management and Governance IN (Details)
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