Of Caring Nurses and Assertive Police Officers: Social Role Information Overrides Gender Stereotypes in Linguistic Behavior

Marie Gustafsson Sendén*, Alice Eagly, Sabine Sczesny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Three studies demonstrated the expression of gender stereotypes in linguistic behavior. In Study 1, participants composed sentences describing a person by freely choosing from female- or male-dominated occupations, female or male pronouns, and communal or agentic traits. In Study 2a, participants chose traits to describe a person identified by a female- or male-dominated occupation and in Study 2b by a female or male pronoun and noun. In Study 3, participants chose traits for a person identified by both a female- or male-dominated occupation and a female or male pronoun. In general, participants chose more communal and fewer agentic traits for sentences containing a female- (vs. male-) dominated occupation and a female (vs. male) pronoun or noun. However, participants described women and men in the same occupation as similarly agentic or communal, demonstrating the primacy of role over sex information as predicted by social role theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • agency
  • communion
  • gender stereotypes
  • linguistic behavior
  • sentence-generating task
  • social role theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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