Sex Roles

, Volume 76, Issue 11–12, pp 682–693 | Cite as

Who Counts as Human? Antecedents to Androcentric Behavior

  • April H. BaileyEmail author
  • Marianne LaFrance
Original Article


People view men as typically human, although some conditions may make this more or less likely. Language has been implicated as one factor, with masculine generic language (e.g., he used neutrally) leading to more androcentrism relative to its alternatives. However, the influence of two types of alternatives (e.g., they vs. he or she) remains unclear. The present study asked 297 male and female online participants from the United States to select typical representations of humanity from a set of White and Black male and female faces. The wording for the concept humanity was manipulated to be either a typical member of mankind, a typical human, or a typical man or woman (or woman or man). Overall, participants selected more White targets. Participants also selected more male targets, but the degree to which that was the case was affected by wording and participant’s gender. Participants, particularly male participants, in the mankind and human wording conditions were more likely to select a male target as representative, whereas in the man or woman condition, participants’ choices did not differ from chance. Thus, androcentric thinking may be more mutable than previously surmised, varying by participants’ gender and by context.


Androcentricism Gender differences Race and ethnic differences Humanness Language 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Yale University Psychology Department for providing funding for the project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The present research involves human subjects; as detailed in the manuscript, the research was reviewed and approved by the Yale Human Subjects Committee.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11199_2016_648_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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