A plethora of psychological studies
investigate the effects of priming on individuals’ behaviors. The purpose of
this experiment is to test if it is possible to strategically prime individuals
with words that will affect their social behavior to make them behave in
accordance with common behaviors that are associated to a gender. Research
shows that merely associating individuals with pictures that indicate genders
automatically activates femaleness or maleness. The stronger and clearer the
pictures denoted gender, the stronger priming effects were (Lemm, Dabady,
Banaji, 2005). When individuals were primed with a specific gender were more prone
to behave in a way that best represents that gender. As a result, the
expectations of each individual affected their behavioral interaction (Herr,
1986). In this particular study, the participants will be presented with
neutral, masculine, or feminine words. Following immediately after, they will
be put in a situation where their social interaction with an upset confederate
will be observed by experimenters. We expect to witness participants who are
primed with masculine words to exhibit masculine behaviors such as show more
confidence, authority, or aggression. When participants are primes with
feminine words, it is expected that they display more feminine behaviors such
as empathy, open mindedness, willingness to listen, altruistic, or willingness
to share personal thoughts.
Priming and Changes in Social Behavior
is a result of individuals being exposed to stimuli that boost the activation
of certain knowledge or information stored in brain. A wide array of previously
conducted studies reveal changes in behavior that result from priming
individuals with stereotypes and different concepts. In Bargh, Chen, and
Burrow’s study from 1996, individuals were primed with stereotypes of certain
racial groups such as African-Americans or elderly groups or idea such as rudeness.
The result showed that participants were primed with rudeness were quicker to
interrupt the experimenter, whereas those who were primed with polite or
neutral words did not display such behavior. Another segment of their study
exhibited that participants who were primed with the elderly unconsciously
walked slower (Bargh, Chen, Burrow, 1996). Priming individuals with certain
concepts altered the way they behaved.
studies also demonstrate that gender stereotype priming produces an immediate
effect on attitude. Steele and Ambady (2006) conducted a study to examine how
gender stereotypes affect women’s attitude toward arts and mathematics. The
study primed women with female category words such as aunt, doll, lady, and
lipstick. As a result, those women displayed a greater preference in arts over
mathematics. Women who were subliminally primed with male category such as
cigar, boy, beer, and grandpa showed a preference in math over arts. Subliminally
priming women with words that reminded them of female identity produced
attitudes towards arts, and the participants remained consistent to gender
stereotype (Steele, Ambady, 2006). Priming participants with gender related
words affected them to behave in accordance with the gender given words
aim of the present experimental study is to examine whether priming
participants with female related words would affect their social behavior when
interacting with an upset confederate by displaying patience, willingness to
listen, altruism, or openness to share experiences than those who are primed
with masculine words or neutral words. Masculine social behavior would include
impatience, aggression, and showing authority. Does reminding people of gender
using words, regardless of their actual gender, influence them to act in
accordance with gender stereotype?
independent variable of this experiment is the gender priming condition. Female
priming condition is priming participants with female related words such as she,
sweet, lipstick, or sister. Male priming condition is priming participants with
masculine words such as football, blue, or razor (Steele, Ambady, 2006).
Neutral priming condition is priming with words that do not display feminine or
masculine concepts such as space, food, or lamp. The dependent variable is
participants’ social behavior, specifically their interaction with an angry
confederate. The expected correlation between the variables is that the
independent variables affects the dependent variable’s outcome. With the
support of priming experiments, this study will provide novel evidence in the
gender priming. This is also a new opportunity to discover the outcome of
gender priming in a different social context.
undergraduate New York University students who major or minor psychology will
participate in this experiment. Students who do not identify themselves as male
or female will be excluded from this experiment to avoid confusion. This study
requires a minimum of 300 participants, because at least 100 participants will
be randomly assigned to each experimental groups: priming with neutral words
(control group), priming with masculine words, priming with feminine words.
will be manipulated and presented in the form of the “Gender Word Priming.” Priming
task engineered to subliminally present female or male concept words to the
participants will be executed by using a computerized system. Then participants
will be randomly assigned to be primed with sets of either feminine, masculine
or neutral words (Blair, Banaji, 1996). During the test, participants will be
subliminally presented with a total of 20 words. The gender word priming test
will prime the participants with randomly assigned sets of words that indicate gender.
Sample feminine words that will be presented are woman, purse, miss, and lady.
Sample masculine words that will be included are tie, tough, and mister
(Steele, Ambady, 2006).
Upon completion of
the test, the experimenter will guide each participant to a new room. The
experimenter will introduce another participant, who is a confederate (Bargh,
Chen, Burrow, 1996). An upset confederate will engage in conversation with the
participant by sharing what is causing the confederate upset. They will be
given 8 minutes, and this social interaction will be recorded and coded by a
coder who will not be aware of the study’s hypothesis and purpose of the
placement of the confederate (Bargh, Chen, Burrow, 1996). This will measure the
effect of earlier gender priming on social behavior.
Social behavior of the participants will be coded,
and the measures will be altruism and extraversion. Altruistic behaviors
include expression of sympathy via physical or verbal form. Extraversion
include openness and willingness to share personal experience, willingness to
provide help, willingness to listen, or maintenance of the conversation and
engagement. Other behaviors that will be measured include aggression or
impatience in the situation and appearance before and during the engagement
(playing with hair, slouching).
will be asked to complete a survey prior to the actual experiment. This survey
will collect their basic information (gender, age, and ethnicity). The
experimenter will randomly assign each participant to a room where he or she
will take a computerized test. This test till prime participants with
masculine, feminine, or neutral words.
completion, participants will then be taken to a room and told that another
participant will be present. This second “participant” will be a confederate. The
confederate will be upset and express his frustration to the participant, and
they will engage in a conversation for 8 minutes. After the experiment is over,
every participant will be debriefed thoroughly and directed to sign a
post-debriefing consent form.
expectation of this study is that the participants express changes in social
behavior when they are primed with masculine, feminine, or neutral words. The
changes are expected to reflect the gender related words participants are
primed with. I expect participants who are primed with feminine words to
display feminine social behaviors such as empathy, giving advice, or providing
comfort toward the confederate. Those who are primed with masculine words are
expected to display masculine social behaviors such as showing authority,
impatience, frustration, or aggression toward the confederate.
expected result of this experiment was to discover that gender priming affects
people to display social behaviors that are in accordance with the gender they
are primed with. Priming can be understood as an implicit memory in a sense
that it occurs unconsciously or without any recollection of any previous
encounters with stimuli. This phenomenon leads individuals to unconsciously
behave in accordance with the particular gender they are primed with. Another
factor that enhances the effect of priming is repetition. Repeatedly exposing
individuals to gender related words temporarily lead them to behave accordingly
(Tulving, Schacter, 1990). Thus, priming individuals with gender specific words
affects individuals to behave accordingly.
limitation of this experiment could be the participants’ upbringing. If the
participant grew up in an environment where he or she was encouraged to help
others and display helping behavior, participant would be willing to
voluntarily assist the confederate. However, the participant from an
individualistic culture where he or she grew up to be independent, rational,
and more self-centered would act differently and display carelessness. These
two cases limit the effect of gender priming.
could be priming failure. Priming effects should not be expected to product
appropriate results with all people under all conditions. Variables that we
present might not produce expected outcomes if they do not trigger intended
behavior (Cesario, 2014). A masculine word such as razor could trigger a
feminine behavior to some participants. Also, words such as space or water
could trigger masculine or feminine behavior depending on the participant. As a
result, we cannot guarantee that gender specific words that we prime
participants with will produce a gender associated social behavioral change.
of this experimental study with reinforcements will contribute to the
betterment of understating gender priming in social contexts. A possibility for
conducting a future research could use image priming instead of words. Combing
the current study with Lemm, Dabady, and Banaji (2005) study will produce
results that focus more on the cognitive impacts. The types of images that
could be used are scenic black and white pictures, pictures of faces, and art
pieces (Lemm, Dabady, Banaji, 2005).