Kevin Lewis

April 22, 2021

“I Can’t Operate, that Boy Is my Son!”: Gender Schemas and a Classic Riddle
Deborah Belle et al.
Sex Roles, forthcoming


To study the power of lived experiences and conscious attitudes in helping individuals to overcome nonconscious gender schemas, U.S. university students (n = 152) were administered a classic riddle requiring the gender schema-inconsistent realization that a surgeon could be a woman. Fewer than a third of participants (30%) responded that the surgeon in the riddle could be a woman. More participants (36%) responded to the riddle by noting that the surgeon could be a second father in a same-sex marriage. Regression analysis tested whether demographic, experiential, and attitudinal variables predicted the realization that the surgeon in the riddle could be a woman. Having an employed mother or female physicians, identifying as a feminist or a political liberal, and reporting low levels of sexism did not predict the realization that the surgeon in the riddle could be a woman. Only identifying as female predicted a greater likelihood of this response. In the present study, the historically newer role of father in a same-sex marriage was more accessible to research participants than the gender schema-inconsistent role of mother as surgeon. We conclude that the gender schema that impeded the realization that a surgeon could also be a mother lies so deep that it is largely unaffected by personal attitudes and experiences.

Not all egalitarianism is created equal: Claims of nonprejudice inadvertently communicate prejudice between ingroup members
Drew Jacoby-Senghor, Michael Rosenblum & Derek Brown
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


Caucasian-Americans' manner of expressing egalitarianism may inadvertently communicate racial prejudices to ingroup members. Despite most hypothesizing the contrary (Preliminary Study), Caucasian-American perceivers were able to infer ingroup targets' underlying racial attitudes using only targets' written claims of being egalitarian (Experiment 1; N = 256) and regardless of whether targets had the goal to be honest or as unprejudiced as possible (Experiment 2; N = 456). A Brunswikian lens analysis identified several linguistic cues associated with perceiver accuracy. Language humanizing African-Americans was especially strongly associated with both targets' underlying attitudes and perceivers' inferences of targets' underlying attitudes. Experiment 3 (N = 811) revealed that Caucasian-Americans' egalitarian statements communicate racial attitudes in an epidemiological sense: Perceivers reported higher racial prejudice after being exposed to egalitarian statements from targets higher, versus lower, in underlying prejudice, regardless of whether perceiver and target had congruent or incongruent political identifications. Therefore, egalitarian declarations may ironically perpetuate inegalitarian attitudes.

Poverty and pain: Low-SES people are believed to be insensitive to pain
Kevin Summers et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


Across 10 experiments (N = 1584), we investigated biases in assumptions about pain sensitivity as an explanation for pain treatment disparities across socioeconomic status (SES). We find that lower-SES individuals are believed to feel less pain than higher-SES individuals (Studies 1a-1c), and this effect persists across target demographics including race (i.e., White individuals, Black individuals) and gender (i.e., men, women; Studies 2–3). Next, we examined two potential mechanisms underlying the effect of SES on pain sensitivity: dehumanization and beliefs about life hardship (Studies 4–5). We observed supporting evidence for the differential life hardship account of pain sensitivity biases across SES. Finally, we investigated the downstream consequences of biased pain perception of pain sensitivity for medical care and treatment recommendations, finding that both lay participants (Studies 6–7) and medical providers (Study 8) believe that low-SES individuals are less sensitive to pain and therefore require less intensive pain management. This systematic bias in judgments of pain sensitivity across SES has implications for psychological theory and equitable pain treatment.

Gender Biases in Estimation of Others’ Pain
Lanlan Zhang et al.
Journal of Pain, forthcoming


Caregiving and other interpersonal interactions often require accurate perception of others’ pain from nonverbal cues, but perceivers may be subject to systematic biases based on gender, race, and other contextual factors. Such biases could contribute to systematic under-recognition and undertreatment of pain. In 2 experiments, we studied the impact of perceived patient sex on lay perceivers’ pain estimates and treatment recommendations. In Experiment 1 (N = 50), perceivers viewed facial video clips of female and male patients in chronic shoulder pain and estimated patients’ pain intensity. Multi-level linear modeling revealed that perceivers under-estimated female patients’ pain compared with male patients, after controlling for patients’ self-reported pain and pain facial expressiveness. Experiment 2 (N = 200) replicated these findings, and additionally found that 1) perceivers’ pain-related gender stereotypes, specifically beliefs about typical women's vs. men's willingness to express pain, predicted pain estimation biases; and 2) perceivers judged female patients as relatively more likely to benefit from psychotherapy, whereas male patients were judged to benefit more from pain medicine. In both experiments, the gender bias effect size was on average 2.45 points on a 0–100 pain scale. Gender biases in pain estimation may be an obstacle to effective pain care, and experimental approaches to characterizing biases, such as the one we tested here, could inform the development of interventions to reduce such biases.

When are Explicit Racial Appeals Accepted? Examining the Role of Racial Status Threat
Leah Christiani
Political Behavior, forthcoming


Evidence has emerged demonstrating that whites no longer reject negative, explicit racial appeals as they had in the past. This seeming reversal of the traditional logic of the powerlessness of explicit appeals raises the question: Why are explicit racial appeals accepted sometimes but rejected at other times? Here, I test whether the relative acceptance of negative, explicit racial appeals depends on whites’ feelings of threat using a two-wave survey experiment that manipulates participants’ feelings of threat, and then examines their responses to an overtly racist political appeal. I find that when whites feel threatened, they are more willing to approve of and agree with a negative, explicit racial appeal disparaging African Americans -- and express willingness to vote for the candidate who made the explicit racial appeal.

Measuring Race and Ancestry in the Age of Genetic Testing
Sasha Shen Johfre, Aliya Saperstein & Jill Hollenbach
Demography, forthcoming


Will the rise of genetic ancestry tests (GATs) change how Americans respond to questions about race and ancestry on censuses and surveys? To provide an answer, we draw on a unique study of more than 100,000 U.S. adults that inquired about respondents' race, ancestry, and genealogical knowledge. We find that people in our sample who have taken a GAT, compared with those who have not, are more likely to self-identify as multiracial and are particularly likely to select three or more races. This difference in multiple-race reporting stems from three factors: (1) people who identify as multiracial are more likely to take GATs; (2) GAT takers are more likely to report multiple regions of ancestral origin; and (3) GAT takers more frequently translate reported ancestral diversity into multiracial self-identification. Our results imply that Americans will select three or more races at higher rates in future demographic data collection, with marked increases in multiple-race reporting among middle-aged adults. We also present experimental evidence that asking questions about ancestry before racial identification moderates some of these GAT-linked reporting differences. Demographers should consider how the meaning of U.S. race data may be changing as more Americans are exposed to information from GATs.

Not giving up: Testosterone promotes persistence against a stronger opponent
Hana Kutlikova et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming


Recent research suggests that when we lack a sense of control, we are prone to motivational failures and early quitting in competitions. Testosterone, on the other hand, is thought to boost competitiveness. Here we investigate the interaction between these factors, testing the testosterone’s potential to enhance persistence in a competition against a stronger opponent, depending on experimentally manipulated perceived control. Healthy participants were administered a single dose of testosterone or placebo. They first underwent a task designed to either induce low or high perceived control and then entered a costly competition against a progressively stronger opponent that they could quit at any time. In the placebo group, men with low perceived control quit twice as early as those with high perceived control. Testosterone countered this effect, making individuals with low control persist in the competition for as long as those with high perceived control, and did so also despite raising participants’ explicit awareness of the opponents’ advantage. This psychoendocrinological effect was not modulated by basal cortisol levels, CAG repeat polymorphism of the androgen receptor gene, or trait dominance. Our results provide the first causal evidence that testosterone promotes competitive persistence in humans and demonstrate that this effect depends on the psychological state elicited prior to the competition, broadening our understanding of the complex relationships between testosterone and social behaviors.

Essentialist Biases Toward Psychiatric Disorders: Brain Disorders Are Presumed Innate
Iris Berent & Melanie Platt
Cognitive Science, forthcoming


A large campaign has sought to destigmatize psychiatric disorders by disseminating the view that they are in fact brain disorders. But when psychiatric disorders are associated with neurobiological correlates, laypeople's attitudes toward patients are harsher, and the prognoses seem poorer. Here, we ask whether these misconceptions could result from the essentialist presumption that brain disorders are innate. To this end, we invited laypeople to reason about psychiatric disorders that are diagnosed by either a brain or a behavioral test that were strictly matched for their informative value. Participants viewed disorders as more likely to be innate and immutable when the diagnosis was supported by a brain test as compared to a behavioral test. These results show for the first time that people spontaneously essentialize psychiatric conditions that are linked to the brain, even when the brain probe offers no additional diagnostic or genetic information. This bias suggests that people consider the biological essence of living things as materially embodied.

Physical Strength Partly Explains Sex Differences in Trait Anxiety in Young Americans
Nicholas Kerry & Damian Murray
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Among the most consistent sex differences to emerge from personality research is that women score higher than men on the Big Five personality trait Neuroticism. However, there are few functionally coherent explanations for this sex difference. The current studies tested whether this sex difference is due, in part, to variation in physical capital. Two preregistered studies (total N = 878 U.S. students) found that sex differences in the anxiety facet of Neuroticism were mediated by variation in physical strength and self-perceived formidability. Study 1 (N = 374) did not find a predicted mediation effect for overall Neuroticism but found a mediation effect for anxiety (the facet of Neuroticism most strongly associated with grip strength). Study 2 (N = 504) predicted and replicated this mediation effect. Further, sex differences in anxiety were serially mediated by grip strength and self-perceived formidability. These findings add to a nascent literature suggesting that differences in physical attributes may partially explain sex differences in personality.

Racial Disparities in Provider-Patient Communication of Incidental Medical Findings
Rebecca Schut
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming


Health disparities research often focuses on the social patterning of health outcomes. Increasingly, there has been an emphasis on understanding the mechanisms perpetuating disparities, even after issues of patient access to health services are addressed. The following study utilizes a novel dataset of electronic medical records (EMR), radiology records, and U.S. Census data to investigate the racial/ethnic patterning of provider-patient communication among patients diagnosed with incidental medical findings requiring follow-up. My results indicate that racial/ethnic disparities in follow-up adherence stem from initial disparities in provider-patient communication. These communication disparities persist even after accounting for multiple socioeconomic, health, and provider characteristics, indicating a bias in medicine, whereby providers are less likely to communicate information about incidental medical findings to patients of color relative to White patients. This paper has important clinical implications, as it sheds new light on why we might see low adherence to medical advice among patients of color. Findings also have social, political, and policy relevance, as they suggest an important mechanism through which health inequalities persist. To finally eliminate racial/ethnic health inequalities in the United States, racial bias and discrimination within medical and public health infrastructures must be eliminated.

Dressing up with Disney and Make-Believe with Marvel: The Impact of Gendered Costumes on Gender Typing, Prosocial Behavior, and Perseverance during Early Childhood
Sarah Coyne et al.
Sex Roles, forthcoming


Wearing costumes is a common experience during early childhood and is often important to sociodramatic play. Costumes tend to be highly gendered for both girls and boys (such as princess and superhero costumes). However, there is very little research on the impact that wearing costumes has on gender-differentiated behavior, such as toy preference, prosocial behavior, or perseverance during early childhood. The current study included 223 U.S. children, aged between 3 and 5 years-old. Children were assigned to wear either a gendered, counter-gendered, or gender-neutral costume, and they then took part in three gender-related tasks. There was no impact of wearing costumes on any task for girls. However, boys preferred feminine toys significantly more when wearing a neutral costume when compared to a masculine-typed one. Additionally, boys were significantly less likely to help when wearing a masculine-typed costume compared to a feminine-typed costume. There are several implications of these findings that are discussed in the paper. Parents may wish to purchase a wide range of costumes for their child for sociodramatic play, particularly for boys. Therapists could also potentially use costumes during play therapy to discuss gender issues. Additionally, costume producers could consider marketing a wide range of costumes for children as opposed to largely focusing on gendered ones.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.