The impact of stereotype threat and self-efficacy beliefs on neuropsychological test performance in a clinical traumatic brain injury (TBI) population was investigated. A total of 42 individuals with mild-to-moderate TBI and 42 (age-, gender-, educationally matched) healthy adults were recruited. The study consisted of a 2 (Type of injury: control, TBI) × 2 (Threat Condition: reduced threat, heightened threat) between-participants design. The purpose of the reduced threat condition was to reduce negative stereotyped beliefs regarding cognitive effects of TBI and to emphasize personal control over cognition. The heightened threat condition consisted of an opposing view. Main effects included greater anxiety, motivation, and dejection but reduced memory self-efficacy for head-injured-groups, compared to control groups. On neuropsychological testing, the TBI-heightened-threat-group displayed lower scores on Initial Encoding (initial recall) and trended toward displaying lower scores on Attention (working memory) compared to the TBI-reduced-threat-group. No effect was found for Delayed Recall measures. Memory self-efficacy mediated the relation between threat condition and neuropsychological performance, indicating a potential mechanism for the threat effect. The findings highlight the impact of stereotype threat and self-referent beliefs on neuropsychological test performance in a clinical TBI population.
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