Stereotype threat is a situation in which individuals fail to perform at their best due to anxiety about confirming a negative stereotype about their social group.
One of the interesting observations that I made while researching stereotype threat is that there seems to be a lot of criticism levied at this particular social theory. While a healthy about of skepticism is healthy (and common when it comes to untested theories), it seems that the level of disbelief regarding stereotype threat is unwarranted given what I believe to be modest claims. The idea that anxiety can lower performance is not new, and is in fact common in many contexts. What stereotype threats adds is that anxiety can be induced by fear of confirming a stereotype regarding one's social group.