Drawing upon self-categorization theory, we predicted that the content of children's stereotypes concerning the gender ingroup would be contextually variable. Two studies are reported, each looking at five-, seven-, and 10-year-old children's stereotypes of the gender in-group in two different contexts. Study 1 examined judgements of the perceived central tendency of the in-group on specified dimensions. Study 2 addressed judgements of perceived variability within the gender in-group on the same dimensions. Overall multivariate analysis of the data indicated that central tendency judgements were influenced by the context in which a group is considered, but that group variability judgements were not. Individual-level analyses showed that the most typical pattern of response over the two conditions, in both Studies 1 and 2, was for children to provide consistent rather than varying judgements. However, in Study 1 (but not Study 2), among those children who changed their judgements, the nature of change was precisely as predicted by self-categorization theory.
- Self-categorization theory
- comparative context