ADULTS’ EXPLANATIONS OF HOW THEY DETERMINE ANOTHER PERSON’S GENDER

Open Access
Author:
Chung, Jane Hiu
Area of Honors:
Psychology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Lynn Susan Liben, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeffrey M. Love , Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Gender
  • Gender labeling
  • Metacognition
Abstract:
Previous researchers have suggested that gender labeling is largely automatic, but it is interesting to learn if people can reflect on the bases they use in that labeling. Thus, this experiment was designed to study the qualities adults believe that they use when asked to label others as male or female. This study drew data from two samples of students who were asked about the basis they used to make male versus female categorizations in two different ways. In the first sample, tested in the “verbal condition,” adults were asked to describe what cues they use to determine a person’s gender. In the second sample, the “picture condition,” participants were asked to label cartoon characters as male or female and then explain the bases they used for their labeling decisions. The analyses demonstrated that there was a significant difference in the types of cues named by the two samples. In the verbal condition, the majority of the types of cues reported were biological cues and cultural cues. In the picture condition, the majority of the types of cues reported were cultural cues. The results showed differences in the cues adults reported using when labeling others' gender depending on the context in which labeling was requested. The findings suggest that adults may rely on different criteria for deciding if others are male or female depending upon whether they are asked about categorizing in a verbal versus a pictorial method.