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Undoing Androcentric Explanations of Gender Differences: Explaining ‘The Effect to be Predicted’


Even if a social category contain women and men, men are often considered the default category members. Such androcentric thinking leads people to explain gender differences in such categories as being ‘about women’ rather than being ‘about men.’ In two experiments (N = 102) this bias was reversed within the category ‘voters.’ Participants generalized data about women voters to men and data about men voters to women, and explained the resulting gender differences. Explanations always focused on the group whose attributes were predicted, whether such predictions were unconstrained (Experiment 1) or constrained by forced-choice items (Experiment 2). People can reason about gender differences by taking women as the default gender, even within categories that are traditionally normed on men. Implications for the communication of gender differences and the bases of androcentric thinking are discussed.

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    All post hoc tests reported here are Tukey’s HSD (α = 0.05).


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Thanks to Lynsey Mahoney for research assistance.

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Correspondence to Peter Hegarty.

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Hegarty, P. Undoing Androcentric Explanations of Gender Differences: Explaining ‘The Effect to be Predicted’. Sex Roles 55, 861–867 (2006).

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  • Explanation
  • Category norm
  • Androcentrism
  • Prediction
  • Gender differences