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Is the left hemisphere androcentric? Evidence of the learned categorical perception of gender.

Thorne S, Hegarty P, Catmur C - Laterality (2015)

Bottom Line: We examined how gender-ambiguous faces were categorized as female or male when presented in the left visual fields (LVFs) and right visual fields (RVFs) to 42 native speakers of English.When stimuli were presented in the RVF rather than the LVF, participants (1) applied a lower threshold to categorize stimuli as male and (2) categorized clearly male faces as male more quickly.Both findings support androcentrism theory suggesting that the left hemisphere, which is specialized for language, processes face stimuli as male-by-default more readily than the right hemisphere.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: a School of Psychology , University of Surrey , Guildford , UK.

ABSTRACT
Effects of language learning on categorical perception have been detected in multiple domains. We extended the methods of these studies to gender and pitted the predictions of androcentrism theory and the spatial agency bias against each other. Androcentrism is the tendency to take men as the default gender and is socialized through language learning. The spatial agency bias is a tendency to imagine men before women in the left-right axis in the direction of one's written language. We examined how gender-ambiguous faces were categorized as female or male when presented in the left visual fields (LVFs) and right visual fields (RVFs) to 42 native speakers of English. When stimuli were presented in the RVF rather than the LVF, participants (1) applied a lower threshold to categorize stimuli as male and (2) categorized clearly male faces as male more quickly. Both findings support androcentrism theory suggesting that the left hemisphere, which is specialized for language, processes face stimuli as male-by-default more readily than the right hemisphere. Neither finding evidences an effect of writing direction predicted by the spatial agency bias on the categorization of gender-ambiguous faces.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

(A) Face stimuli used in the categorization task in increasing levels of maleness ranging from 0% male to 100% male. (B) Trial structure for the categorization task. On 40% of trials the fixation cross turned from black to red and on half of these trials, following the face decision, participants were asked if the cross had changed. On 20% of trials, participants were prompted to answer the question but the cross did not change colour.
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f0001: (A) Face stimuli used in the categorization task in increasing levels of maleness ranging from 0% male to 100% male. (B) Trial structure for the categorization task. On 40% of trials the fixation cross turned from black to red and on half of these trials, following the face decision, participants were asked if the cross had changed. On 20% of trials, participants were prompted to answer the question but the cross did not change colour.

Mentions: The present study therefore drew directly on studies of the categorical perception of colour with the two aims of minimizing ambiguity about which hemisphere of the brain was processing the relevant stimuli and of providing maximal opportunity to detect hemispheric effects on categorization. On successive trials, participants categorized gender-ambiguous faces presented in either the RVF or LVF as female or male. The faces were morphed and varied along a 7-point female-to-male continuum (Figure 1). Both response times and the proportion of faces categorized as male or as female were recorded for each point along the female-to-male continuum. These measures allowed a critical test of androcentrism theory and the spatial agency bias. If androcentrism affects categorical perception of gender-ambiguous faces, then we should observe a lower threshold for categorizing faces as male and lower reaction time in response to clearly male faces in the RVF. If the spatial agency bias affects categorical processing, then we should observe a lower threshold for categorizing faces as male for faces presented in the RVF and lower reaction time for clearly male faces presented in the LVF and clearly female faces presented in the RVF.


Is the left hemisphere androcentric? Evidence of the learned categorical perception of gender.

Thorne S, Hegarty P, Catmur C - Laterality (2015)

(A) Face stimuli used in the categorization task in increasing levels of maleness ranging from 0% male to 100% male. (B) Trial structure for the categorization task. On 40% of trials the fixation cross turned from black to red and on half of these trials, following the face decision, participants were asked if the cross had changed. On 20% of trials, participants were prompted to answer the question but the cross did not change colour.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4566876&req=5

f0001: (A) Face stimuli used in the categorization task in increasing levels of maleness ranging from 0% male to 100% male. (B) Trial structure for the categorization task. On 40% of trials the fixation cross turned from black to red and on half of these trials, following the face decision, participants were asked if the cross had changed. On 20% of trials, participants were prompted to answer the question but the cross did not change colour.
Mentions: The present study therefore drew directly on studies of the categorical perception of colour with the two aims of minimizing ambiguity about which hemisphere of the brain was processing the relevant stimuli and of providing maximal opportunity to detect hemispheric effects on categorization. On successive trials, participants categorized gender-ambiguous faces presented in either the RVF or LVF as female or male. The faces were morphed and varied along a 7-point female-to-male continuum (Figure 1). Both response times and the proportion of faces categorized as male or as female were recorded for each point along the female-to-male continuum. These measures allowed a critical test of androcentrism theory and the spatial agency bias. If androcentrism affects categorical perception of gender-ambiguous faces, then we should observe a lower threshold for categorizing faces as male and lower reaction time in response to clearly male faces in the RVF. If the spatial agency bias affects categorical processing, then we should observe a lower threshold for categorizing faces as male for faces presented in the RVF and lower reaction time for clearly male faces presented in the LVF and clearly female faces presented in the RVF.

Bottom Line: We examined how gender-ambiguous faces were categorized as female or male when presented in the left visual fields (LVFs) and right visual fields (RVFs) to 42 native speakers of English.When stimuli were presented in the RVF rather than the LVF, participants (1) applied a lower threshold to categorize stimuli as male and (2) categorized clearly male faces as male more quickly.Both findings support androcentrism theory suggesting that the left hemisphere, which is specialized for language, processes face stimuli as male-by-default more readily than the right hemisphere.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: a School of Psychology , University of Surrey , Guildford , UK.

ABSTRACT
Effects of language learning on categorical perception have been detected in multiple domains. We extended the methods of these studies to gender and pitted the predictions of androcentrism theory and the spatial agency bias against each other. Androcentrism is the tendency to take men as the default gender and is socialized through language learning. The spatial agency bias is a tendency to imagine men before women in the left-right axis in the direction of one's written language. We examined how gender-ambiguous faces were categorized as female or male when presented in the left visual fields (LVFs) and right visual fields (RVFs) to 42 native speakers of English. When stimuli were presented in the RVF rather than the LVF, participants (1) applied a lower threshold to categorize stimuli as male and (2) categorized clearly male faces as male more quickly. Both findings support androcentrism theory suggesting that the left hemisphere, which is specialized for language, processes face stimuli as male-by-default more readily than the right hemisphere. Neither finding evidences an effect of writing direction predicted by the spatial agency bias on the categorization of gender-ambiguous faces.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus