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The Negative Effects of Positive Gender Stereotypes: Evidence from a Collectivistic Cultural Context


Positive stereotypes have been shown to negatively impact targets in individualistic cultural contexts. However, individuals from individualistic cultures and those from collectivistic cultures have different perceptions of positive stereotypes, which may lead to different reactions to positive stereotypes. The present study investigated the mechanism underlying targets’ negative reactions to positive gender stereotypes in China, a country with a collectivistic culture. Study 1 revealed that women who heard the positive gender stereotype “women are good at language” reported experiencing stronger negative reactions (including greater dislike, negative emotions, and perceptions of gender prejudice) toward the perpetrator of the stereotype than women who did not hear the positive gender stereotype. Further, we found that a sense of depersonalization mediated the relation between hearing the positive stereotype and negative reactions. Study 2 revealed that men who heard the positive gender stereotype “men are good at math” believed that the perpetrator of the stereotype exhibited more gender prejudice than did men who did not hear the positive stereotype. However, there were no significant differences between men who heard the positive gender stereotype and those who did not hear the stereotype in feelings of dislike or negative emotions. In addition, a sense of depersonalization did not mediate men’s reactions to the positive gender stereotype. These findings extend our knowledge on the interpersonal consequences of and reactions to positive gender stereotypes within collectivistic contexts.

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The authors would like to thank the editor, Rachael Robnett, and reviewers for their insightful comments and constructive suggestions which significantly improved the paper.


This work was partially supported by the National Social Science Key Program of China (21ASH011), Tianjin Philosophy and Social Science Youth Program (TJJX21-011), and Tianjin Research Innovation Project for Postgraduate Students (2022BKY009). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analyses, the decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript. Additionally, the funders had no influence on the interpretation of data and the final conclusions drawn.

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All authors contributed to the study. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Zhen Wang, Li Zhao, Jian Guan, and Guoguo Zuo. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Zhen Wang and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jian Guan.

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Wang, Z., Zhao, L., Guan, J. et al. The Negative Effects of Positive Gender Stereotypes: Evidence from a Collectivistic Cultural Context. Sex Roles 89, 786–800 (2023).

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