Sex stereotypes and implicit personality theory: Toward a cognitive—Social psychological conceptualization
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- Ashmore, R.D. & Del Boca, F.K. Sex Roles (1979) 5: 219. doi:10.1007/BF00287932
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Progress in understanding sex stereotypes has been impeded by the failure of researchers to address two critical conceptual questions: What is a sex stereotype? How do sex stereotypes function in social cognition and behavior? As a step toward answering the first question, the meaning of the term “sex stereotype” was considered. On the basis of points of agreement among extant conceptual definitions of the construct “stereotype” (in both the female-male and ethnic relations literatures), a generic definition of “sex stereotypes” is proposed: the structured sets of beliefs about the personal attributes of women and of men. In order to relate sex stereotypes more closely to research and theory on “normal” psychological processes, this basic definition is recast in terms of the person perception construct, “implicit personality theory”: the structured sets of inferential relations that link personal attributes to the social categories female and male. Two studies are presented to illustrate the utility of this translation. The remainder of the article addresses the second question. Here we offer preliminary ideas regarding a more general cognitive—social psychological framework for the study of sex stereotypes. Stereotype and stereotyping are distinguished, and each is discussed in light of relevant research in cognitive and social psychology.