Social consensus feedback as a strategy to overcome spontaneous gender stereotypes

Finnegan, Eimear and Garnham, Alan and Oakhill, Jane (2015) Social consensus feedback as a strategy to overcome spontaneous gender stereotypes. Discourse Processes, 52 (5-6). pp. 434-462. ISSN 0163-853X (

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Across two experiments the present research examined the use of social consensus feedback as a strategy for overcoming spontaneous gender stereotyping when certain social role nouns and professional terms are read. Participants were presented with word pairs comprising a role noun (e.g., surgeon) and a kinship term (e.g., mother) and asked to decide whether both terms could refer to the same person. In the absence of training, participants responded more slowly and less accurately to stereotype incongruent pairings (e.g., surgeon/mother) than stereotype congruent pairings (e.g., surgeon/father). When participants were provided with (fictitious) social consensus feedback, constructed to suggest that past participants did not succumb to stereotypes, performance to incongruent pairings improved significantly (Experiment 1). The mechanism(s) through which the social feedback operated were then investigated (Experiment 2), with results suggesting that success was due to social compliance processes. Implications of findings for the field of discourse processing are discussed.