Economic inequality influences the content of gender stereotypes

Wed, 06/01/2022 - 12:02
Economic inequality influences the content of gender stereotypes

Economic inequality is one of the main problems in today's society and affects people's psychological processes. With this research, Eva Moreno-Bella, Guillermo B. Willis and Miguel Moya, researchers at CIMCYC, study how economic inequality affects the way men and women are perceived.

To this end, they carried out two experiments, one in Spain and the other in Mexico, where they found that a high level of economic inequality (versus a low level of inequality) leads to changes in the agentic and communal content that form the stereotypes of men and women. The agency dimension captures the person's orientation towards itself and goal attainment, and is composed of traits such as being a self-confident, efficient and intelligent person. The communion dimension represents the maintenance of social relationships and orientation towards others, and is composed of traits such as being an empathetic, honest and caring person. Traditionally, men have been considered more agentic than communal, while women have been considered more communal than agentic.

The results of this research indicated that the difference in agentic-communal content of the male stereotype increases when people perceive that there is a high level of economic inequality. In the case of the female stereotype, this difference in agentic-communal content is reduced when people perceive high economic inequality. 

These differences in the content of gender stereotypes are mainly the result of the effect of economic inequality on the communal (but not on the agentic) content of both male and female stereotypes: when there is high economic inequality, men and women are perceived as less communal.

These results show how the perception of economic inequality affects social cohesion and the normative climate of a given context. Furthermore, this research is a first step in the study of economic inequality and gender inequality together and emphasizes the importance of examining the influence of socioeconomic variables on psychosocial processes.


Full reference

Moreno-Bella, E., Willis, G. B., Quiroga-Garza, A., & Moya, M. (2022). Economic inequality shapes the agency-communion content of gender stereotypes. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.