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Lecture 4

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Alison Luby

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Lecture 4: Content and Origins of Gender Stereotypes
Categorization Processes
Although people know the same stereotypes, we can differ in how much we endorse them; but in general, people
often think that they must be correct
Stereotypes begin because we categoriz e people (from very early age becomes automatic)
Stangor, Lynch, Duan, and Glass (1992)
oPs learned about conversations between individuals and had to remember who said what
oTargets varied by race and sex
oWithin-sex er rors > within-race er rors = we spontaneously categoriz e people by gender (more mistakes on
sex t han any other dimensions)
This ‘categorization allows people to understand the world quickly and easily and ultimately predict what
others are going to do
Content and Origins of Gender Stereotypes
Gender stereotypes include: physical characteristics, preferences and interests, social roles, and occupations
BUT we focus MOST on the traits
oAmbitious and powerful for men = agentic
oNurturing, empathetic, and warm for women = communal
A)Traits came from the s ocial roles?
Traditional role for women = mother
Traditional role for men = provider / protector
Hoffman and Hurst (1990)
oPs told stor ies about aliens (Orint hians and Ackmians) that one group is child raisers and the other works in
oPs then read personality, social group, and occupational descriptions, each of which contains one agentic,
one communal, and one gender-neutral traits
oDESPITE being equally masculine and feminine, the different groups had different social roles
oOrint hians were rated more agentic and Ackmians were rated more communal
oEffects were exaggerated when told that they were biologically different
oPOINT: people infer stereotypes from ROLES, not an observation of the traits
B)Are there status differences ascribed to the roles and traits?
People assume t hat high-status group = more agentic traits; low-status group = more communal traits (have to be
warm and expressive to get into high-power peoples resources)
Also evident in Conway, Pizzamiglio, and Mount (1996) study
oStereotypes for men = provider/protector role with higher status
oStereotypes for women = nur turing role with lower status
Cross-Cultural Consistency in Gender Stereotypes
Social role theory and evolutionary view argue: similar cross-cultural stereotypes
Cultural view argues: much m ore cross-cultural variations
J.E.Williams and Best’s (1990) cross-cultural studies
oPs rated each trait on personality in terms of whether it fits more male, female, or neutral
oResult 1: ambivalent sexism found (men are bold but bad; women are lovely but weak)
oResult 2: fit wit h social role theory (men = provider = power; women = lovely = nur turing = low status)
All nations studied, stereotypically masculine traits related to power and achievement motives; feminine traits
related to nurturing, relationship, and power-avoidant mot ives

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