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Group membership influences on subcategorization processes

April L Seifert, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The present studies examined moderators of the cognitive processes perceivers use to mentally represent stereotype-inconsistent gender subcategories relative to superordinate gender stereotypes. Subtyping occurs when a perceiver creates a separate mental representation for stereotype-inconsistent individuals who are deemed “exceptions to the rule.” Subgrouping occurs when perceivers integrate stereotype-inconsistent individuals into their superordinate gender stereotypes. Previous work suggests that subtyping maintains and strengthens stereotypes, making it extremely important to understand the predictors of these subcategorization processes. The present studies tested the hypothesis that gender group membership is one of the predictors of subcategorization processes. I hypothesized that individuals are more likely to subgroup ingroup subcategories and subtype outgroup subcategories. Study 1 tested this hypothesis by asking participants to explicitly indicate the degree of overlap they perceived between the superordinate gender groups and common subcategories of men and women. The results of Study 1 supported previous research illustrating the importance of typicality as a moderator of subcategorization (i.e., typical subcategories tend to be subgrouped), but they did not support my main hypothesis. As a secondary goal, Study 1 also tested for perceptions of outgroup homogeneity (i.e., when perceivers view outgroups as less variable compared to the ingroup). The results of Study 1 did not support the outgroup homogeneity effect. Study 2 tested my main hypothesis by again asking participants to complete a set of explicit subcategorization measures. Participants also completed two implicit subcategorization measures (i.e., a cued recall memory task and a response latency task). Both the explicit and implicit data from Study 2 showed support for my main hypothesis; however, the explicit and implicit data diverged in two important ways. Typicality predicted explicit but not implicit subcategorization, and gender identification predicted explicit subgrouping but implicit subtyping. These results are discussed in terms of the influence of group membership on subcategorization, and I suggest a revision to the traditional definitions and measurement of subtyping and subgrouping. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social

Recommended Citation

Seifert, April L, "Group membership influences on subcategorization processes" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3293925.