Publication details

Human and man side by side, woman trapped in a different reality: word associations in Czech

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Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Ceskoslovenska Psychologie/Czechoslovak Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Field Psychology
Keywords symbolic asymmetry; gender categories; intergroup relations; agency-communion; social representations
Description The main objective of the research was to verify the symbolic asymmetry in spontaneous and socially shared representations of gender categories, also on the evaluative dimension in the Czech cultural context. Two hundred and twenty-three undergraduate students (117 males and 106 females, M = 20.5 years old) were asked to freely produce their associations on primes Human, Man and Woman (in randomized order) and to evaluate each of them. Hypotheses. 1. Authors expected a stronger overlap between primes Man and Human than between Woman and Human: a) in overall valence of primes; b) on agency-communion dimensions. 2. They expected overall a more favorable evaluation of Woman than Man. 3. They also expected a greater heterogeneity for Man in comparison with Woman in terms of total number of different words associated with primes. Two sets of analyses were subsequently carried out; the overall valence of words associated with each prime and a categorical analysis specifically targeted at evaluating the extent to which responses to the primes pertained to communion vs. agency. For the former an univariate ANOVA was conducted considering prime (Human vs. Man vs. Woman) and sex of participant (Female vs. Male participant) as between-participants variables. For the latter, a mixed ANOVA was performed on the number of associated words considering prime (Human vs. Man vs. Woman) and sex of participant (Female vs. Male participant) as between-participants variables and attributes (Agency vs. Communion) as a within-participants variable. All hypotheses were supported. The results strongly suggest that Czech speakers spontaneously consider Man a higher-level gender. More globally, the study supports the idea of gendersymbolic asymmetry: gender categories do not differ only in their content, status or power, but also in their hierarchical cognitive organizations. Masculinity holds ascribed symbolic superiority over femininity.
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