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Divergence Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Stereotypes and Expectations for Gay Men and Lesbian Women

Image credit: Personal

Divergence Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Stereotypes and Expectations for Gay Men and Lesbian Women

Abstract

Previous research has shown people hold an implicit gender inversion assumption regarding descriptive stereotypes of gay men and lesbian women. More specifically, people believe that the hobbies and preferences of gay men are similar to straight women while lesbian women are similar to straight men. However, what is not well understood is whether gender inversion assumptions also underlies perceptions of what gay men and lesbian women should do and be. Across several sets of data we show a divergence between descriptive and prescriptive stereotypes, as gender inversion was a good predictor for the traits people assumed gay men and lesbian women have but not a good predictor for the traits people believed was desired of gay men and lesbian women. The data suggest that individuals do not in general differentiate gay men and lesbian women on the basis of gender and instead assume low status, and more specifically incompetence, in gendered tasks.

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Location
Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA
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Sa-kiera T. J. Hudson, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate in the Social Perception and Communications Lab

My research interests include race, gender, sexual orientation, and power.