Stephen Harkins

Professor
Location: 125 NI (Nightingale Hall), Boston, MA 02115

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Social Psychology

About

Dr. Harkins is currently testing a model that is aimed at accounting for the effect of threat on task performance, the Threat-Induced Potentiation of Prepotent Reponses (TIPPR) Model. This model builds on Harkins and his colleagues’ (Harkins, 2006; McFall, et al., 2009) mere effort account of the effect of the…

Dr. Harkins is currently testing a model that is aimed at accounting for the effect of threat on task performance, the Threat-Induced Potentiation of Prepotent Reponses (TIPPR) Model. This model builds on Harkins and his colleagues’ (Harkins, 2006; McFall, et al., 2009) mere effort account of the effect of the potential for evaluation on task performance, which was then extended to stereotype threat (Jamieson & Harkins, 2007, 2009). Subsequent work (e.g., Jamieson et al., 2010) suggests that the mere effort account is best understood in the broader context provided by the TIPPR Model.

The TIPPR Model argues that threat potentiates prepotent responses. This potentiation could have been adaptive in our ancestral past because responses to threat would likely require “flight or fight” or some other relatively simple behavior that would be facilitated by such potentiation. However, given the range of tasks that now confront us, this potentiation may help or hurt performance. We are currently conducting research that tests core claims of this model, and pits it against the working memory depletion account, an explanation that is currently in vogue.