“Girls Are as Good as Boys” Implies Boys Are Better, But Only in the Absence of Explicit Awareness

AbstractThe statement “Girls are as good as boys at math” appears to express gender equality, but research has shown that people infer a gender difference from such statements: the group in the complement position (boys) is judged to be superior. Are people aware that the syntax of these statements influences their judgments and do these framing effects generalize to other groups and inferences? We addressed these questions by replicating and extending previous work, showing that (1) syntactic framing effects extend to politically charged inferences about religious groups and terrorism, and (2) a majority of people recognize subject-complement statements as influential in their judgments, but framing effects are found only in those who fail to recognize this influence. Those who do cite this syntax as influential tend to show a reverse framing effect, suggesting they may be sensitive to the bias implicit in such statements and consciously act to resist it.

Return to previous page