Although universal definitions are by no means agreed upon, the terms sex—male and female—and gender—femininity and/or masculinity—are semantically dissociable. The aim with the current study was to explore whether and to what extent they may be dissociable in perceptual terms. A comparison of sex judgments and gender judgments from point light walker (PLW) stimuli offered possibilities for obtaining a finer-grained picture of the basis or bases of these types of social judgments. In this study PLWs were used explicitly to examine the pattern of responses to questions of sex (male/female) and gender (masculine/feminine). Observers perceived targets to be feminine at the same rate as female, but perceived a subset of targets significantly more often to be male than masculine. Thus, a disconnect was demonstrated between male and masculine perceptions with no such uncoupling evident for perceptions of female and feminine. This pattern of responding accords with the idea—often described as Precarious Manhood—that manhood, or masculinity, may be a more difficult mantle to earn than mere ‘maleness’, with femininity considered closer to an essential aspect of being female
Postprint of: Kozlowski, D, Brooks, A & van der Zwan, R 2016, 'The disconnect between observers’ male and masculine judgments from sparse gait cues conveying gender: perceiving precarious manhood', Gender Issues, vol. 33, pp. 285-298.
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