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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 271

Claude Steele is the author of this book. The book is not really character-driven, but is more about the role of stereotypes and their their effect on our interactions with other people. Steele writes that he and his fellow researchers have coined a term stereotype threat that can be identified as a tendency to
expect, perceive, and be influenced by negative stereotypes about one’s social category, such as one’s age, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, profession, nationality, political affiliation, mental health status, and so on.
So identity contingencies are our preconceived notions and ideas about the other person or persons that we bring with us to all social interactions. The author argues that we as a society are more aware of these biases than we used to be, we may still fall into thinking that we must behave in ways that society declares are true for us. The problem with this is that it endows us with and additional burden. Steele writes,
The problem is that the pressure to disprove a stereotype changes what you are about in a situation. It gives you an additional task. In addition to learning new skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking in a schooling situation, or in addition to trying to perform well in a workplace like the women in the high-tech firms, you are also trying to slay a ghost in the room, the negative stereotype and its allegation about you and your group. You are multitasking, and because the stakes involved are high—survival and success versus failure in an area that is important to you—this multitasking is stressful and distracting.

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