The role of devaluing and discounting in performance monitoring: A neurophysiological study of minorities under threat

Chad E. Forbes, Toni Schmader, John J.B. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Psychological disengagement allows stigmatized individuals to cope with negative outcomes in stereotype-relevant domains, but its role in online performance monitoring and adjustment is unknown. This study examined how two forms of disengagement (devaluing and discounting) predict performance monitoring at an early (motivational) and later (interpretational) stage of error processing. Among minority college students, event-related brain activity was measured in response to errors on tasks described neutrally or as diagnostic of intelligence. Results found dissociable effects for error-related negativity (ERN) and later positivity (Pe). When the task was linked to intelligence, valuing academics predicted larger ERNs. Unexpectedly, discounting tendencies predicted smaller Pes when the task was described neutrally, a relationship that was attenuated and somewhat reversed when explicitly linking the task to intelligence. In the diagnostic condition, valuing also predicted more efficient behavioral responses to errors, whereas discounting predicted more negative task construals. Results suggest that among stereotype threatened minority students, devaluing has implications for early stage motivational processes involved in monitoring and responding to errors, whereas discounting may have implications for later construal processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 26 2008



  • ERN
  • Event-related potentials
  • Pe
  • Performance monitoring
  • Psychological disengagement
  • Social neuroscience
  • Stereotype threat
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this