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Judging the gender of the inanimate: Benevolent sexism and gender stereotypes guide impressions of physical objects

Judging the gender of the inanimate: Benevolent sexism and gender stereotypes guide impressions of physical objects

British Journal of Social Psychology 56(3): 537-560

Within a given culture, sexist ideologies and stereotypes are largely characterized by their prescriptive expectations for the types of social and behavioural domains men and women occupy. The activities that take place within these respective domains, however, frequently involve designed, physical artefacts. This study reports a pair of studies that test whether sexist schemas are capable of guiding not only impressions of men and women as social groups, but also their impressions of the inanimate objects associated with these groups. In Study 1, benevolent sexism was found to predict a greater willingness to classify physical objects as being either highly feminine or highly masculine, even when these objects had a neutral rating by the sample as a whole. In Study 2, stereotypes consistent with legitimizing ideologies (i.e., competence and warmth) predicted rating associated objects in complementary ways, in terms of greater liking of feminine objects but greater presumed competence needed for using masculine objects. These results demonstrate how sexist beliefs and attitudes are capable of bleeding into people's impressions of the physical world.

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Accession: 059900130

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 28466538

DOI: 10.1111/bjso.12198

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