Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Clinton Layne, Richard Miller, Lois Layne

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


An attempt was made to investigate the extent to which individuals are unknowingly influenced by a sex role stereotype in their evaluations of men and women. It was hypothesized that subjects would describe a character in more potency-related, “masculine” terms if that character had been identified as a male than if the character had been identified as a female. Subjects taking part in this study were an equal number of male and female students in introductory psychology classes. The semantic differential technique was employed as a descriptive tool for the subjects’ evaluations of a character they read about in a short passage. The content of the passage used was designed to include qualities usually thought of as masculine and qualities usually thought of as feminine. A 2 x 2 factorial analysis of variance procedure was performed. The results indicated no significant differences either for Factor A, sex of the stimulus figure, or Factor B, sex of the subject. This suggests that both males and females described the character equally in terms of potency and that the sex of the character portrayed did not significantly influence the subjects’ perceptions or evaluations. However, the interaction effects of the two factors did approach significance. Male subjects tended to produce a lower mean potency score when evaluating a female character than when evaluating a male character. On the other hand, female subjects showed the opposite tendency of evaluating a female character with a higher potency rating than they gave to a male character.


Gender and Sexuality | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology