'Whistling Vivaldi' And Beating Stereotypes

Women taking a math test will perform worse when reminded that women aren't expected to do well in math. Social psychologist Claude Steele calls this an example of the "stereotype threat." In his book, Whistling Vivaldi, he lays out a plan to reshape those expectations.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Our social identities come from a lot of places: our race, our sex, our age, our political affiliations, our medical diagnoses, our high schools, colleges, our favorite baseball teams. And each of those identities comes along with a set of expectations or stereotypes.

We all know that women can't compete with men at higher math. We all know that white men can't jump. And then there's a curious fact: When confronted with those negative stereotypes, female math majors do perform worse on tests, and white jumpers fail to clear the usual bar. Take away the threat to their identity, and they'll do fine.

It's a phenomenon social psychologist Claude Steele calls the stereotype threat, and his new book looks at the many and surprising ways that these expectations affect our lives. He also lays out a plan to minimize the impact.

So call and tell us what situations you've had to deal with in which your social identity and the expectations that come along with it presented a challenge. How did you overcome it, if you did? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the hour, actor, producer and now Broadway director Stanley Tucci joins us to talk about his new revival of the 1989 farce "Lend me a Tenor." But first, Claude Steele. His book is called "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affects Us." He joins us from our bureau in New York City. Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION today.

Dr. CLAUDE STEELE (Author, "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us"): Great to be here.

CONAN: And let me ask you to start with your realization of your own social identity, when you were a kid going to the swimming pool.

Dr. STEELE: Well, as I begin the book with the story of trying to remember when I first became aware I was African-American. And to the best of my ability, we psychologists know that memory is a construction. So you're always cautious, but to the best of my ability, it was one day, the last day of school, second or third grade, coming home with kids in the neighborhood. And the conversation came up that gee, we couldn't go to the swimming pool that was three or so blocks away, in a white neighborhood, and that we'd have to except on Wednesday afternoon. So if we were going to swim that summer in that pool, we would have to go only on Wednesday afternoons. And the reason for that became because we were black, because we were African-American.

And that was, in some ways, the first realization I had of being black and that the other kids I lived around were also black and that we had this contingency of identity, as I've been calling it, to deal with.

CONAN: The identity, being black, the contingency being you can't swim at that pool except on Wednesdays.

Dr. STEELE: Exactly.

CONAN: And you write later in the book that, in fact, had someone sat you down at that age and said son, let me tell you about discrimination, that you would have listened politely for a little while. But if they told you can only swim at the pool on Wednesdays, suddenly you were pretty interested in race.

Dr. STEELE: That's correct. I mean, it really the swimming pool restriction really affected how my life was going to be. The instruction from adults that this is important and you should think about it and understand it, those things are kind of abstract and may be interesting, but they wouldn't be nearly as compelling psychologically, and they sort of take over your thinking and functioning as much as a real restriction tied to an identity.

CONAN: And a lot of your book is, in fact, a result of your investigation as to why specifically African-American, but later minority students, seemed to do so poorly academically at big institutions like the University of Michigan, where you worked, or at Stanford University, where you also work. And indeed, what you found out was it was this social identity and the negative consequences of it.

Dr. STEELE: Yes, the prospect if you can imagine, you talked to - you had a woman at the beginning of the hour talking about her experience in math. You can imagine being a woman taking a difficult math course, let's say in her second or third year of college, and experiencing frustration at that.

That frustration in math occasions the relevance of the stereotype about women's math ability. And if she's invested in doing well at math, she could worry that oh my goodness, you know, I've invested so much in it, but here it is. Maybe what they say is true. And that could be upsetting and distracting and interfere with her functioning right there in the middle of that course or in the middle of taking that standardized test. And that has been what our research is focused on, is trying to test that idea, put it to test. I and my colleagues have done that over the last 20 years.

CONAN: And one of the fascinating findings is that, in fact: A, you do have to care about the outcome of this performance, and the more accomplished you are, the more this effect shows up.

Dr. STEELE: Yeah, yeah, you have more invested in it. So the if you really, if you don't care about if you're a woman, and you don't care about doing well with math, your life is on another path, then the prospect of confirming such a stereotype about your group's ability or - it isn't as upsetting to you because you're not invested in that area, but when you've really invested yourself, then the prospect of that stereotype being true or its being seen to be true and you being treated accordingly, that has considerable impact. It scares you, and that fear can directly interfere with your functioning.

CONAN: And you go on to prove this, as you mentioned, with white, female math majors, well, female math majors in general. There's a fascinating part of the test where, in fact, you somebody tests Asian female math majors to see whether both stereotypes will work: A, they're failing at math because they're female, or their expectation that they will succeed because they're Asian.

Dr. STEELE: Yes, yes. I didn't do that, but some other very clever researchers did, and they found that the performance follows whichever stereotype you make most salient in the situation, most obvious. If you remind them of their gender, then they underperform, being affected by that negative stereotype. If you remind them of their ethnicity, then they don't underperform in relation to men. So whichever stereotype is in the air seems to drive the direction of performance.

CONAN: And this goes to white sprinters, you also found out when they're posed against black sprinters - and let me read you a quote from later in the book: There exists no group on earth that is not negatively stereotyped in some way: the old, the young, Northerners, Southerners, WASPs, computer whiz kids, Californians and so forth. In other words, all of us, no matter who we are, somewhere there's a negative stereotype that we all bear.

Dr. STEELE: Indeed it's true.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. STEELE: I could never haven't yet found a group that doesn't have at least some negative stereotype about them.

CONAN: And does this help explain to you why we seem to live in a nation where there is no group that does not feel like an aggrieved minority?

Dr. STEELE: Well, it's probably part of it, that there is no group that doesn't have a negative stereotype, and when that if that stereotype is relevant to them in an important set of situations, like the classroom or the workplace or the basketball court or something that they care about, then they're going to feel this pressure.

I mean, the beauty, of course, is that from this analysis grows some convincing strategies for reducing this threat. And some people, of course, know these, learn these strategies on their own, but I think we've got a long way in kind of isolating some.

CONAN: Indeed, that experiment with the women Asian women math majors points to one. If you tell them a positive part of the stereotype, that'll help.

Dr. STEELE: That's right. That's right. Being reminded of positive role models can greatly reduce the otherwise damaging effects of the negative stereotype.

CONAN: Let's get some...

Dr. STEELE: That's one strategy.

CONAN: Let's get some callers in on the conversation. We'll get to some of the others a little bit later in the program.

Dr. STEELE: Great.

CONAN: Our guest is Claude Steele, author of "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us." 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. When has stereotypes about your social identity affected your life? John(ph) is on the line from Manchester, New Hampshire.

JOHN (Caller): Hey, yeah. This is John. How are you guys doing?

CONAN: Good.

Dr. STEELE: Fine.

JOHN: Yeah, hey. I want to say something about the (unintelligible) goes beyond, like, gender or race or class like that, but I found that since I've graduated high school, and I've yet to go to college, but I'm in the U.S. Forest Service. And so I'll show up on the worksite, and right away, they'll have this instant stigma that since I've not attended college, that they have stereotyped that I am not as qualified or capable, but it turns out I'm able to par, if not excel past their expectations. So that's one stereotype, one that maybe you guys could address for me.

CONAN: Okay. As a fellow non-collegian, John, I hear you. But go ahead, Claude Steele.

JOHN: Yeah, thats, like, that's what I'm talking about. It goes beyond, like I've seen - so I've worked with females, blacks, whites, every race you can think of, every demographic, every background. And the thing is, is like it comes down to the end of the day, you're sitting around the fire after you've just worked really hard all day in the Park Service that it'll come down to the fact that, like, they'll look at you less respectively in the one fact that you don't have that piece of paper saying you know what you know, but all the while, I've had three or four years experience now past anything that these college graduates really have.

Like, they're all greenhorns compared to me, but since I don't have the piece of paper, there's instantly a stereotype that I don't know exactly the same, like, how to make a grade in the trail, or I don't know the same, like, the same...

CONAN: We hear you, John. And let me ask Claude Steele about this. In fact, this sort of comes up with an email you got from somebody who attended one of your lectures and said: Gee, you've listed all these things that have negative stereotypes. You didn't mention mental illness.

Dr. STEELE: Yeah, that's a good example, and it connects to the caller's concern that this was, I was going on and on about these other stereotypes and performance in math and athletics and the like, and the email reminded me that in her case, she was manic-depressive or bipolar and that in the audience, she felt reluctant to raise her hand and ask about that because she thought everybody would begin to see her that way and to see her as having a mental illness and that that might affect her employment options and how people related to her.

And she provided a perfect example of the vast array of forms of negative of stereotype threat that people can experience, just as the caller's experience does. That's one that I hadn't really thought of, but as he describes it, it's a very compelling experience. And it's precisely an example of stereotypes around in that there's something about him that, you know, authorizes this kind of stereotype, and he becomes aware of it, and that's the experience of the threat. And it affects his relationships with other people, his functioning at various times and so on.

CONAN: And let me ask you about the title of your book, "Whistling Vivaldi."

Dr. STEELE: Yes, that comes from a friend, Brent Staples who writes for the New York Times, and his autobiography called "Parallel Time," a great book I can plug. He describes being a graduate student, an African-American graduate student at the University of Chicago, walking down the street dressed as a student and realizing that his mere presence was making whites uncomfortable.

And they would avoid him or sort of cross the street to get away from him and so on. He realized from this kind of behavior that they were seeing him through the lens of a negative stereotype about African-Americans in that neighborhood, that perhaps as a young male, black male, he might be violent. And it was making his whole experience of the situation tense and awkward. He learned how to whistle Vivaldi to deflect that stereotype.

CONAN: When they heard the classical music being whistled, they said oh, this is a man of refinement.

Dr. STEELE: Exactly. And he relaxed, they relaxed, and the situation went on.

CONAN: Another cue, perhaps we'll get to it a bit later. We're talking with Claude Steele about his book "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us." Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

No one is immune from stereotype. Every one of us is part of some group affected by negative perceptions, and we know we may be judged by it. Claude Steele calls it stereotype threat, a topic he studied for many years. He writes about it in his latest book, "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us."

So call and tell us what situations you've had to deal with in which your social identity and the expectations that come along with it presented a challenge. How did you overcome it if you did? 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's go next to Tonya(ph), Tonya with us from Madison.

TONYA (Caller): Hi, Neal.

CONAN: Good to talk with you.

TONYA: You, too. So I'm an engineer. When I was in K through 12, I had showed that I had a lot of apparently from that age - some good mathematical skills, and by my senior year, I was taking, like, honors calculus.

And then I went to a community college, a small college in Southern Michigan and was valedictorian with my associate's in engineering and had won the engineering department award. And I transferred to the University of Michigan, and suddenly I was in a very different place.

I was in a place that had people from all over the world, you know, predominately men. And I think that in retrospect now, listening to this, that it seems to make sense because when I would take an exam, I would get everything right that I would finish, but I almost feel like I was trying to be so meticulous because I was fearful that I wasn't going to perform how I was used to performing that I actually didn't perform as well as I was used to performing.

CONAN: And that seems like an accurate description of this effect, Claude Steele.

Mr. STEELE: Yes, that really is a perfect description of it. And it is at the University of Michigan, although all schools have this, many schools, especially stronger schools, have this kind of experience is rife - can be rife there.

That's a perfect description because somebody - it's not an effect that's tied to their real abilities. It's, in effect, it's almost like an intimidation factor, and the other critical thing in the caller's description is place.

In some places, it can be very powerful, where there are a lot of cues that make one aware of one's identity and the contingencies that can be tied to it. That can make the experience of stereotype threat much worse, whereas in other situations, where maybe there are more women, you know, you're in a high school, and the girls are just as good at math at the boys, and there isn't as much visibility of this stereotype to give it credibility, it isn't a powerful thing.

But as you move up the ladder, and there are fewer women in the classes and the like, the stereotype and the pressures of it become more intense.

CONAN: The examples you use in your book is Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman justice of the United States Supreme Court, felt intense pressure until she was joined on the court by another woman.

Mr. STEELE: That's right, Ginsburg.

CONAN: Indeed.

Mr. STEELE: Which she describes as the happiest day one of the happiest days in her life was when Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed up on the Supreme Court. That made it so that she wasn't the only woman, and everything she did wasn't interpreted in terms of her being a woman.

That put a lot of pressure and made all the stereotypes constantly irrelevant to her functioning and I'm sure must have made her miserable, as she describes. But then when another woman comes, her decision is not just a woman's decision. There are several women's decisions here, and it dissipates.

CONAN: And it raises again and Tonya, thank you very much for the call -raises another one of the solutions you suggest in your book. It's an idea called critical mass. If you have enough of a member of whichever minority it is, and again you use the example of women in a philharmonic orchestra.

Mr. STEELE: Yes, that sends a strong signal that that identity is not itself a source of disdain, or in the situation, that that identity can be valued there, and it's possible to be there and to function effectively. That kind of a message that critical mass sends, relaxes the sense in a person that they're under this kind of threat.

CONAN: And that number is a little hard to judge in each situation, two enough apparently for the Supreme Court, but 40 percent as it turns out for a philharmonic orchestra.

Mr. STEELE: Yeah.

CONAN: But anyway, let's go next to Chris(ph), and Chris with us from Rehoboth in Delaware.

CHRIS (Caller): Hi. I am a 53-year-old woman. So I grew up in the '50s and '60s, and I have to say that my personal response to anyone telling me you can't do that because you're a girl has consistently been in my life to say, well, yes I can. And I'm going to prove it to you, and I'll do it better than you do.

Mr. STEELE: Yes, it's important to realize that the causes of underperformance in our research are not from women giving up. They don't give up under that kind of pressure. They do try extra hard, but sometimes, that can not foster. That can interfere with, performance in its own right.

What's happening when you're doing that is that you're it affects the allocation of your cognitive resources. They're you're paying more attention to trying hard. You're paying more attention to thoughts that are kind of resisting thoughts that are disturbing and so on. And with that kind of activity going on in the background, there's less attention to be allocated to the task at hand, and that's how this kind of threat can interfere with performance.

CONAN: As you Claude Steele puts it in his book, you're not only doing the test or whatever it is, you're slaying a ghost.

Mr. STEELE: Yes, you're multitasking.

CHRIS: But that hasn't I haven't had the experience of ever underperforming in my field. I mean, I don't I understand what you're saying, and I think I probably agree with you.

CONAN: He's talking about generalized situations, not obviously, there are individuals individuals vary.

CHRIS: Right.

Mr. STEELE: Individuals vary, and situations vary. There are some situations where the stereotype about gender is more or less relevant. The relevance of the stereotype varies. It's very pointed in the area of math and quantitatively based fields.

CHRIS: Well, I'm a clergy person. So it's very pointed in my field, as well.

Mr. STEELE: Did you say clergy?

CONAN: Yes.

CHRIS: Yeah, clergy.

Mr. STEELE: Oh, well, I guess that's true.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHRIS: Yeah, yeah. No, I just wonder if I mean, to me, it's not a threat, it's a challenge. It's an opportunity. It's an invitation. Is that just the personal part or is that...

Mr. STEELE: Well, I do think that's the most constructive way...

CHRIS: Huh?

Mr. STEELE: I do think that's the most constructive way to regard it. I really do. It's just that in certain situations where performance on a difficult task is the issue and is persistently the issue, one is at the frontier of their skills, moving through a math curriculum or a physics curriculum, or that's where this sort of daily pressure can begin to have more of a wearing effect.

CONAN: And indeed thank you very much, Chris indeed not just a wearing effect. You come across a phenomenon called John Henryism, which may help explain the shorter life spans, due to hypertension, of some African-Americans.

Mr. STEELE: Yes. This is again not my own research, but it's very relevant in the sense that it describes some of the costs of trying hard over a lifetime to resist a stereotype, that it can cause be a source of hypertension and other related diseases, the effort to if you're in a situation where you're consistently pushing against that and pushing against that, a tax is paid eventually, and some of that tax has to do with one's health.

CONAN: There are other implications to this, and you don't go into this in great depth, but you present some research, again not your own, about how easily we humans discriminate against each other, even when the categories we're divided in are seemingly meaningless: over-estimaters and under-estimaters, whatever that may mean.

And yet when placed in those categories, we will work on behalf of our own group, to individuals in our group to the detriment of people in other groups, and this helps explain, to some degree, this phenomenon seemingly we're hardwired with it why - this is interestingly presented in the context of a young man from Lebanon, who is well, he's got all kinds of stereotypes, but he writes about violence in the Middle East.

Mr. STEELE: Yeah, the first it turns out this is again a whole lot of social-psychological research, not mine but just the minimal divisions among us, if they're made salient, we can begin to identify with whichever side we're on. It's like identifying with something like our school.

It's not really rationally, from a distance, that great an identity, but we identify very quickly with it and feel those feelings very deeply. It's something fundamental about being a human being. It becomes part of our identity.

And so it the point there is that it just takes as kind of a minimal division of people for this whole apparatus of stereotype threat to get underway. We start to stereotype the other group. They stereotype us. We react to the stereotypes, and you have a situation of the sort we're describing.

CONAN: And then they are the other, and you can do terrible things.

Mr. STEELE: Yes, in the name of having one's group identity threatened, to protect a group: your country, your school. The argument is that people can do things, be more violent, than they would be sometimes even in defense of themselves.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in on the conversation. This is J.R., J.R. with us from Circleville in Ohio.

J.R. (Caller): Yes, I was born in southeast Ohio, and I think I first realized that I was being stereotyped as, you know, an Appalachian when I made it to grad school, and I was helping teach a class for high school teachers. I was one of the grad students who was TAing, and I had a teacher from northeast Ohio say well, you know, you're awful smart, or you know this very well or whatever she said, and where are you from?

And I said, well, I was from Southeast Ohio. And she said, well, you did very well for yourself.

CONAN: Hmm.

Dr. STEELE: Hmm.

J.R.: Get out from where you were. And now I'm a school teacher. I'm working back in Southeast Ohio. And now I think I've come to realize the stereotype (unintelligible). I didn't realize it as a student so much. But now I'm trying to teach students and I'm trying to help them overcome these stereotypes that they've become So...

CONAN: And what techniques do you use to do that?

J.R.: Well, I wish I could tell you I was very effective at it. I don't know how effective I am. I'm only three years into teaching now, so I'm developing these things. The real ideal is to hold them to the highest standards that I can and I make them realize, hopefully, eventually, sometimes I fail at this, but I try to hold them to the highest standards and let them know that they can succeed even when it's hard. And that it being hard doesn't mean that it's -you don't - you're not smart. It just means it's hard. It's hard for everybody. It's hard if you're from Southeast Ohio or if you're Brooklyn, New York, if you're from Boston, Massachusetts, this is hard for everybody to understand.

CONAN: Well, that's one technique, Claude Steele.

Dr. STEELE: Yes. I - you've - most of the solutions we've come up with people have found in their own lives, and this is a perfect example of that. One of the - to put - bring it to a sharp point, one of the things we found is that if you give - if you're very demanding in a classroom situation of that sort and, at the same time, you affirm the students' abilities to realize those high standards that you're setting, you - the combination of things is very effective at the reducing the effects - the negative effects of stereotype threat. It signals to the student that they're not being seen as having limited ability. They're not being seen through the lens of that stereotype. And then they can rise to the call of doing better and, you know, working hard in the -with the material.

CONAN: This was described in your book as something you stumble across by accident when, again, testing some of those female math majors and the expectation that they might do worse, you inadvertently reminded them that, well, you're from Stanford.

Dr. STEELE: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. STEELE: And with that frame in mind, they relaxed, they did a lot better. It made the stereotype about women's math abilities just less relevant to them. That's one of the sort of tricks of reducing this threat is to do something that makes the stereotype that would normally be relevant to them, not relevant in that situation. And that's one strategy we used, was to remind them of being that they were from Stanford.

But the gentlemen's strategy is another one. If - it tells his students he's not seeing them through the negative stereotype about their background. He's demanding a lot from them and he's affirming their ability to achieve it.

CONAN: J.R., good luck to you.

J.R.: Thank you very much, Neal.

CONAN: Appreciate the phone call.

Dr. STEELE: Yeah.

CONAN: We're talking with Claude Steele about his book, "Whistling Vivaldi," and other clues to how stereotypes affect us.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And we have this email from Glen(ph) in Kansas City. My name is Glen. As a female filmmaker, it's been intimidating to get my projects noticed. One of the things that's helped me most is submitting to festivals so many times it's assumed Glen is a male, and ironically, this has helped me. Once when I checked in at a festival, they asked me if I was his assistant, withholding the badge until I explained I was Glen.

And it's interesting, that email came in and reminded of the story you tell about Anatole Broyard.

Dr. STEELE: Yes. Yes. This is a strategy used to avoid stereotype threat. And I think, in some ways, it's some of the more compelling evidence of the existence of stereotype threat in real life that a couple of strategies, both passing, where people change their names, or if they have the appearance to do it, shift from being black to being white; representing themselves as white to avoid the experience of being negatively stereotyped. Or another strategy is to expatriate...

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Dr. STEELE: ...to move to another society where the stereotypes are different and one doesn't have to, therefore, experience the same kind of stereotyping.

CONAN: Oh.

Dr. STEELE: I think both of those strategies, passing and expatriation, are similar to the Glen strategy that she's using there where she's deflecting being seen and treated in terms of the stereotype by representing herself differently.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to John(ph). John with us from Flint, Michigan.

JOHN (Caller): Yes. I have a situation where my daughter is, not just (unintelligible), also my daughter is in grade school. We lived in an affluent neighborhood and went to a nice - very nice school. And she did great in math and all her subjects. We had to move to another neighborhood, but went to an intercity school. And immediately, all her grades dipped because they were treating her as with the other African-American students, as if their level of comprehension is at one level.

It's kind of funny, because at home, we would do her homework and she'd get everything right. But when she went to school, her teachers said she had a notable difficulty in solving problems. And then we - to solve to remedy the situation, we took her out of that school and put her into a private school. And lo and behold, she's almost like a math whiz of her grade.

So we're trying to figure out, you know, what was the situation with the one school. We have a before and after picture, but now we can see that, you know, maybe she was being stereotyped as far as, you know, what - relationship with everyone else.

Dr. STEELE: Yeah. It sounds like in the school where she did poorly, did worse than expected, she was under some low expectations on the part of her teachers and that maybe the whole climate there had that. I'm not sure that's all together stereotype threat, but it's nonetheless a powerful social psychological pressure to be seen in terms of - and treated in terms of low expectations that can undermine motivation and undermine interest, and all kinds of things that you're describing were evidenced by your daughter.

CONAN: And we wish her continued good luck, John, in pursuit of math.

And - but let me - we just have a minute left, but I wanted to ask you about the alternate theory, which is if you're looking at the situation, yes, there could be this psychological pressure that people are responding to. It can also be something inherent, that maybe women aren't as good as men at math, biologically, and something in their brains or that white men can't jump.

Dr. STEELE: Aha. You'll have to read the book for how we sort out these explanations.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. STEELE: But we do, I think, definitively, over 20 years of research. And you do it by putting people in performance situations and showing that their performances can be equal when you get rid of this stereotype threat. Whereas the other theory - the different God made women and men different theory...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. STEELE: ...to put it nicely, that theory would predict that nothing you did in the situation would change. If you give them difficult math, women are always going to under-perform. If you give difficult problems, African-American students are always going to under-perform. Well, they don't. When you do things in those situations to reduce stereotype threat and that is probably the principal evidence that - in behalf of this argument.

CONAN: Claude Steele, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Dr. STEELE: Thank you. It's my pleasure.

CONAN: Claude Steele's book, "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us." And he joined us from our bureau in New York.

Coming up, Oscar-nominated actor Stanley Tucci on his career, his Broadway directorial debut and the value of farce in tough times. If you'd like to join us to talk with Stanley Tucci, 800-989-8255. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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