Monday, 5 May 2014

Body Movement & Gender Stereotypes

In their study, Koppensteiner and Grammer translated public performances of forty politicians (20 male and 20 female speakers) into animated stick figures. That way, information was limited and the speaker’s gender was to be recognised by outward features, i.e. landmarks on different spots such as the forehead, ears, shoulders, hands etc. In addition, personality ratings were given. The authors created a "sex index" for each figure and correlated it with the personality ratings. The main questions were if the participants were able to recognise the gender of the speakers in the stick figure movies and if their ratings of perceived gender were influenced by their judgments of personality.

Results showed frequent errors when identifying the gender of the speakers and differences when participants were asked to ascribe personalities to male vs. female stick-figures. While there were no differences between males and females when agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness were identified, male speakers were rated as more extraverted and more emotionally stable. Correlations between personality ratings and "sex index" showed that stick figures that were rated more often as female received higher scores for agreeableness. In other words, "friendly" behaviour was classified as female. In contrast, extraversion was related to masculinity. The authors come to the conclusion that gender stereotypes influence ratings.

Koppensteiner, M. & Grammer, K. (2011) Body movements of male and female speakers and their influence on perceptions of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 743-747

Photos by Gjon Mili (Alfred Hitchcock via), (woman, 1951 via), (third one via)