Gender Difference in Prejudice Toward Redheads

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Many stereotypes about persons with red hair are both gender-specific and derogatory. These stereotypes often stand in stark contrast to gender-role stereotypes for men and for women. In three studies, the current research considered if prejudice directed at redheads is, in part, a result of bias against gender-atypical people. In Study 1, participants read about a bullying incident in which the victim was a boy or girl with red hair or another hair colour. Redheads, in general, were seen as less masculine than persons with other hair colours, while boys with red hair were seen as less well-liked than boys with other hair colours, particularly by men. This difference was not found for girls. In Study 2, participants viewed a male or female adult target person with red hair or another hair colour, and completed measures of gender stereotyping, liking, and sexual attraction. Male redheads were seen as less masculine, less gender prototypical, and less sexual than male non-redheads, by both men and women. However, only men liked male redheads less than males with other hair colours—no differences for any variables were found for judgments of female redheads and non-redheads. For male redheads, as expected, gender prototypicality was found to mediate the relationship between hair colour and liking, but only for men. As in Study 2, in the third study participants saw male redheads as less gender prototypical, and less sexual, than male non-redheads. However, red hair on men did not affect how much they were liked in Study 3. Overall, the results of the three studies illustrate that prejudice toward redheads is at least partly about gender atypicality, that this prejudice is mostly directed at boys and men, and that this prejudice is perpetuated by men more than by women.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Schmitt, Michael
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