Neural correlates of automatic beliefs about gender stereotypes: Males are more prejudicial

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Abstract

Aim of this study was to investigate the neural bases of stereotype representation, including the presence of gender bias. EEG was recorded from 128 sites in 38 Italian participants. While looking for rare animal words, participants read 240 sentences, half of which expressed notions congruent with gender stereotypes, and the other half did not (e.g., “Prepared the tomato sauce and then SHAVED”, “The engineer stained HER SKIRT”). Event-related potentials (ERPs) were time-locked to critical words. Findings showed enhanced anterior N400 and occipito-parietal P600 responses to items that violated gender stereotypes, mostly in men. The swLORETA analysis applied to N400 potentials in response to incongruent phrases showed that the most activated areas during stereotype processing were the right medial temporal and medial frontal gyri, as well as the TPJ. The data hint at a gender difference in stereotyping, with men being more prejudicial especially when the depicted character is a male.

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