Examining the Boundary Conditions of Acknowledging Contextualized Emotion With Women in STEM Interviews

Open Access
McCormick-Huhn, Kaitlin
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 28, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Stephanie A Shields, Thesis Advisor
  • emotion
  • women
  • intervention
  • competence
  • contextualize
  • beliefs
  • labeling
  • emotion regulation
  • STEM
Displays of emotion in response to emotion-evoking events are often interpreted as evidence of people’s stable dispositions. For women, emotion displays often further confirm a stereotype that women are overly emotional. The judgment that women are too emotional may be particularly harmful in contexts that emphasize rationality, such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Using an intervention, termed Acknowledging Contextualized Emotion (ACE), people can reduce an observer’s likelihood of attributing their emotion displays to excessive emotionality. Study 1 examined whether the ACE intervention buffered the competence of women candidates interviewing in a video for either a STEM or non-STEM position. Study 2 examined whether participants evaluated candidates using the ACE intervention differently if participants believed they could be either accurate or inaccurate in their evaluation. Overall, results of both studies did not support hypotheses. In contrast to predictions, results of Study 1 revealed candidates were not perceived differently based on the job field for which they interviewed. In both Studies 1 and 2, regardless of instruction, ACE did not effectively buffer perceptions of competence for job candidates expressing nervousness as had been predicted. Results have implications for determining when and under what conditions ACE is and is not effective at buffering competence for those displaying emotion.