Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Our perceptions of masculinity and femininity swayed by our sense of touch

Date:
January 12, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Gender stereotypes suggest that men are usually tough and women are usually tender. A new study finds these stereotypes have some real bodily truth for our brains; when people look at a gender-neutral face, they are more likely to judge it as male if they're touching something hard and as female if they're touching something soft.

Gender stereotypes suggest that men are usually tough and women are usually tender. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds these stereotypes have some real bodily truth for our brains; when people look at a gender-neutral face, they are more likely to judge it as male if they're touching something hard and as female if they're touching something soft.

Several studies have found recently that we understand many concepts through our bodies. For example, weight conveys importance; just giving someone a heavy clipboard to hold will make them judge something as more important than someone who holds a light clipboard. Michael Slepian, a graduate student at Tufts University, and his colleagues wanted to know if this was also true for how people think about gender.

For one experiment, people were given either a hard or a soft ball to hold, then told to squeeze it continuously while looking at pictures of faces on a computer. Each face had been made to look exactly gender-neutral, so it was neither male nor female. For each face, the volunteer had to categorize it as male or female. People who were squeezing the soft ball were more likely to judge faces as female, while people who handled the hard ball were more likely to categorize them as male.

The same effect was found in a second experiment in which people wrote their answers on a piece of paper with carbon paper underneath; some were told to press hard, to make two copies, and some were told to press lightly, so the carbon paper could be reused. People who were pressing hard were more likely to categorize faces as male, while the soft writers were more likely to choose female.

"We were really surprised," says Slepian, who cowrote the study with Max Weisbuch of the University of Denver, Nicholas O. Rule at the University of Toronto, and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University. "It's remarkable that the feeling of handling something hard or soft can influence how you visually perceive a face." The results show that knowledge about social categories, such as gender, is like other kinds of knowledge -- it's partly carried in the body.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. L. Slepian, M. Weisbuch, N. O. Rule, N. Ambady. Tough and Tender: Embodied Categorization of Gender. Psychological Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1177/0956797610390388

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Our perceptions of masculinity and femininity swayed by our sense of touch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133029.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, January 12). Our perceptions of masculinity and femininity swayed by our sense of touch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133029.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Our perceptions of masculinity and femininity swayed by our sense of touch." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133029.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins