An unfortunate human characteristic is our penchant for adopting thoughts or beliefs about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things that may not reflect reality.
Some of the most egregious perceptions involve racial and gender stereotypes that result in profound consequences from job interviews and housing, to police stops and prison terms.
A new research study examines whether these different categories (race and gender) overlap in their stereotypes.
Investigators discovered stereotypes pertaining to the connections — called gendered race – significantly affect our personal and professional decisions.
Researchers discovered that within the United States, Asians as an ethnic group are perceived as more feminine in comparison to whites, while blacks are perceived as more masculine.
Further research by Dr. Adam Galinsky of the Columbia Business School suggests that the fact that race is gendered has profound consequences for interracial marriage, leadership selection, and athletic participation.
In a series of studies, Galinsky and his colleagues Erika Hall of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Amy Cuddy of Harvard University first tested whether race was gendered.
To do this, they administered an online survey to 85 participants of various backgrounds. Researchers then evaluated either the femininity or masculinity of certain traits or attributed those traits to Asians, whites, and blacks.
“The stereotype content for blacks was considered to be the most masculine, followed by whites, with Asians being the least masculine,” Galinsky wrote in the study, soon to appear in the journal Psychological Science. “Thus, we found a substantial overlap between the contents of racial and gender stereotypes.”
A separate study, in which participants were subliminally exposed to a word related to race before reacting to words perceived as masculine or feminine, showed that the association between racial and gender stereotypes exists even at an implicit level.
A following set of studies demonstrated that these associations have important implications for romantic relationships.
Among heterosexual individuals, men tend to prefer women who personify the feminine ideal while women prefer men who embody masculinity.
Galinsky showed that men are more attracted to Asian women relative to black women, while women are more attracted to black men relative to Asian men.
Even more interesting, the more a man valued femininity the more likely he was attracted to an Asian woman and the less likely he was attracted to a black women.
The same effect occurred for women, with attraction to masculinity driving the differential attraction to black men and Asian men.
According to Galinsky, the interracial dating preferences have real-world implications, as he analyzed 2000 U.S. Census data and found a similar pattern among interracial marriages.
Among black-white marriages, 73 percent had a black husband and a white wife, while among Asian-white marriages, 75 percent had a white husband and an Asian wife. An even more pronounced pattern emerged in Asian-black marriages, in which 86 percent had a black husband and an Asian wife.
The effects of gendered races also extended to leadership selection and athletic participation.
In a study in which participants evaluated job candidates, Asians were more likely to be selected for a leadership position that required collaboration and relationship building, traits typically perceived as feminine.
Black candidates were more likely to be chosen for positions that required a fiercely competitive approach, typically seen as masculine.
A final study analyzed archival data from the NCAA Student-Athlete Ethnicity Report, which breaks down the racial composition of 30 different collegiate sports.
Galinsky and his colleagues found that the more a sport was perceived to be masculine the greater the relative number of black to Asian athletes who played that sport at the collegiate level, with blacks more likely to participate in the most masculine sports.
“This research shows that the intersection of race and gender has important real-world consequences,” Galinsky concluded.
“Considering the overlap between racial and gender stereotypes – our gendered race perspective – opens up new frontiers for understanding how stereotypes impact the important decisions that drive our most significant outcomes at work and at home.”
Source: Columbia University