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Gender, Race, and Speech Style Stereotypes

Abstract

Considerable research has shown that people have stereotypical beliefs about the speech and communication style of women and men. There is less research about stereotypes of Black people's speech, and none that jointly or comparably investigates communication stereotypes as a function of both gender and race. In this study, White college students (n = 111) rated a fictional character's speech on 36 pairs of words characteristic of communication style (e.g., emotional–unemotional) and also generated dialogue for the character. Targets' race and sex were varied. Results showed that beliefs about speech style were stronger for race than gender. Black speakers, both women and men, were rated as more direct and emotional, and less socially appropriate and playful, than White speakers. The dialogue generated by participants for Black speakers was less grammatical and more profane than for White speakers. Gender effects were consistent with earlier research but suggest a weakening of stereotypes; women's speech was seen as somewhat less direct and more emotional than men's speech. Beliefs about speech and communication style are important because they may function not only to describe “what is” but to prescribe “what should be” in social interaction.

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Correspondence to Danielle Popp.

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Popp, D., Donovan, R.A., Crawford, M. et al. Gender, Race, and Speech Style Stereotypes. Sex Roles 48, 317–325 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022986429748

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022986429748

  • stereotypes
  • communication
  • gender
  • race speech style