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Gender stereotypes : a social cognitive approach


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Barber, Sandra 1989 , 'Gender stereotypes : a social cognitive approach', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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A social cognitive approach to stereotype research,
utilizing the theory and methods of cognitive psychology while
emphasizing the fundamentally social nature of the
phenomena in question, was used to investigate gender
stereotypes. Stereotypes of femininity and masculinity were
conceptualized as schemata, following the work of Bern (1981)
and Markus & Crane (1982), and some anomalies in the
previous research were addressed. Markus and her colleagues
focussed on gender self schemata, and seemed to establish that
sex typed individuals are either feminine schematic or
masculine schematic; while Bern confounded self schemata and
role schemata, and argued for a generalized gender schema for
both self and other relevant information. One of the aims of
the current investigation was to assess the structure of gender
role schemata. Particular reference was made to negative sex
typed traits and how important they are to stereotypes of
femininity and masculinity. The cognitive methodology used was a lexical decision
task in which pairs of words were presented sequentially, and subjects were required to respond to the second one, deciding
whether it was a real word or not. On the basis of research
showing that subjects respond significantly faster to words
when they follow a word with which they are highly
semantically associated (eg. Meyer & Schvaneveldt, 1976;
Dannenbring & Briand, 1982), the priming effect was proposed
as measure of associative strength. This application had been
used in stereotype research only once before, by Gaertner &
Mclaughlin (1983) in their investigation of racial stereotypes.
Three categories of prime words were used - feminine,
masculine and neutral; followed by feminine positive, feminine
negative, masculine positive, masculine negative and neutral
target words (and matched nonwords). Neutral prime-target
trials were included in order to validate the methodology. The
results suggested that the lexical decision task could be used
as a nonreactive measure of associative strength in stereotype
research, but care must be taken to avoid certain methodological problems, especially the excessive repetition of
prime words.
It was found that for feminine and masculine target
words subjects' response time did not differ whether the preceding prime was gender appropriate or inappropriate,
providing tentative support for a generalized gender role
schema, although further research could clarify this issue. In
contrast, for feminine and masculine negative target words,
reaction times were significantly faster to words when they
followed gender incongruent primes than congruent ones. The
differential response would seem to be indicative of an
inhibitory mechanism, and is inconsistent with the notion of a
generalized gender schema.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Barber, Sandra
Keywords: Sex role, Stereotype (Psychology)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 1995. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 61-67)

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