, Volume 54, Issue 7-8, pp 447-458
Date: 27 Oct 2006

The Content and Function of Gender Self-stereotypes: An Exploratory Investigation

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We drew on gender identity theory (Spence, 1993) and social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) to examine the structure and content of college students’ gender self-stereotypes and how their selective self-stereotyping relate to academic self-schema, personal self-esteem, and collective self-esteem. Although students were aware of the gender stereotypes and perceived them to be true “in general,” when asked, which traits were self-descriptive, participants engaged in selective self-stereotyping. Participants tended to report that positive stereotypes were more self-descriptive than group-descriptive, whereas negative stereotypes were more group-descriptive than self-descriptive. The tendency to selectively self-stereotype personality and physical traits was associated with increased personal and collective self-esteem. Selective self-stereotyping in cognitive domains was associated with academic self-schemas for men. The results provide an interesting perspective into the structure, content, and function of gender self-stereotypes. Results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications.