What are Men and Mothers for? The Causes and Consequences of Functional Reasoning about Social Categories

Emily Foster-Hanson, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Do people attribute functions to gendered social categories? (For instance, is there something men or mothers are for?) And if so, do such attributions of function have consequences for normative judgments about what members of these social categories ought to do? In the current study, participants (N = 366) rated their agreement with 15 statements about the “true functions” of different social categories, in triads of matched masculine, feminine, and superordinate categories (e.g., fathers, mothers, and parents). Participants endorsed functional claims more for some social categories (e.g., parents) than others (e.g., kids), and their background beliefs about gender predicted variation in functional reasoning. However, across categories, participants judged that fulfilling true functions was 'natural' for members of the category, and they judged that category members ought to fulfill their true functions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages824-832
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Cognitive Diversity, CogSci 2022 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Jul 27 2022Jul 30 2022

Conference

Conference44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Cognitive Diversity, CogSci 2022
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityToronto
Period7/27/227/30/22

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • essentialism
  • functional explanations
  • gender
  • normative judgments
  • social cognition

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