Exposure to Scientific Explanations for Gender Differences Influences Individuals’ Personal Theories of Gender and Their Evaluations of a Discriminatory Situation

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Gender lay theory is a framework of information interpretation related to gender categorisation and can be divided into two
general forms: gender essentialism versus gender as socially constructed. The present study investigated how exposure to
scientifically framed explanations for gender differences affects individuals’ gender lay theory and if endorsement of an essentialist gender lay theory influences discrimination attribution. The 413 Swedish participants were exposed to scientific explanations of gender differences, with either a biological or a social constructionist perspective, or to no-explanation control. Compared
to the control condition, the social constructionist condition showed higher endorsement of a non-essentialist gender lay theory.
The biological condition did not differ from the control condition, indicating that an essentialist view of gender might be the
prevailing norm in Sweden. Discrimination attribution was indirectly affected by exposure to social constructionist explanations
of gender differences through increasing endorsement of a non-essentialist gender lay theory, which predicted a higher degree of
discrimination attribution. In other words, exposure to social constructionist explanations of gender differences predicted a
greater recognition of discriminatory behaviour as such than did exposure to biological explanations or no explanation.
Implications of the current study include the potential for social constructionist theories of gender to be used for educational
purposes to increase recognition of discriminatory behaviour.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Psykologi (exklusive tillämpad psykologi)
  • Genusstudier


  • Essentialism, Sweden, Gender discrimination, Scientific communication, Gender differences, Discrimination attribution
TidskriftSex Roles: A Journal of Research
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 jun 3
Peer review utfördJa