Does putting each other in a box box in our own thinking? Examining whether the narrow parameters of the gender binary restrict creative thought

Open Access
McGhee, Chelsea Mae
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Women's Studies and Psychology
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Stephanie A. Shields, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor , Honors Advisor
  • Susan Mohammed, Honors Advisor
  • gender
  • gender binary
  • language
  • linguistic relativity
  • creativity
A great deal of feminist and transgender literature has demonstrated the deleterious effects of gender binary. No research appears to consider the possibility however that a relationship might exist between thinking of gender as a dualism and creative thought. The following study sought to determine if viewing gender as a binary constricted creativity. A 2x2 factorial study was conducted with 190 undergraduate students from The Pennsylvania State University. Participants were primed to see gender as a binary or spectrum, primed to see two genders or more than two genders as perceptually salient, and measured on two creativity scales. A marginally significant main effect was found for gender perspective, suggesting that the cognitive schema one holds of gender can either facilitate or impede divergent creative thinking. It is concluded that widespread adoption of the concept that gender is spectrum might enhance the creative capabilities of the human race as a whole.