While it is recognized that Barbie dolls are perceived as feminine and Action figures as masculine, less is considered about the gender associations related to everyday items like the food we choose to eat. This series of studies reveal for instance that sour dairy products tend to be perceived as relatively feminine, whereas meat tends to be perceived as relatively masculine. Men are inclined to forgo their intrinsic preferences to conform to a masculine gender identity. Women, on the other hand, appear to be less concerned with making gender-congruent choices. This research attempts to provide insight into how gender links affect the decision making of men and women differently.
Everyday items are imbued with subtle yet pervasive gender associations. For instance, sour dairy products and products with rounded edges tend to be perceived as relatively feminine, whereas meat and products with sharp edges tend to be perceived as relatively masculine. In a series of studies, we find that men are more likely to choose gender-congruent options (masculine foods and angular-shaped items) when they have unconstrained time and attentional resources than when these resources are constrained. In contrast, women’s choices tend to not be affected by time or attentional resource availability. Our findings suggest that men experience a conflict between their relatively intrinsic preferences and gender norms and that they tend to forgo their intrinsic preferences to conform to a masculine gender identity (when they have sufficient resources to incorporate gender norm information in their choices). Women, on the other hand, appear to be less concerned with making gender-congruent choices.
Title: Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche: Regulation of Gender-Expressive Choices by Men
Authors: David Gal & James Wilkie
First published: online before print June 30, 2010