, Volume 28, Issue 11-12, pp 667-678

Evaluative expectations and the gender schema: Is failed inconsistency better?

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Abstract

Are evaluative assessments a part of the information that constitutes the gender stereotype? Two studies tested this question by presenting participants (50 female and 43 male college students, for whom English was their native language) with information that manipulated both the knowledge of gender roles and the evaluative assessments of performance in those roles. Participants tried to learn statements like “Jane is a good nurse” or “John is a bad nurse.” Memory for these relationships was then tested. Results indicated that when the person's name and the role were consistent with the gender stereotype, a positive evaluative connection made the statement easier to recall than a negative evaluative connection. However, an inconsistent name—role pairing was easier to recall when the evaluative connection was negative rather than positive. The results are interpreted as support for an evaluative bias that is part of the knowledge associated with gender differences.

This work was supported in part by funds from the foundation of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and from the State of North Carolina. Thanks to Tracey Mercer Browning for her assistance with data collection, and to Helene Hilger and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.