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Keywords:

  • Self-categorization theory;
  • gender stereotype;
  • group perception;
  • social identity

Self-categorization theorists (Oakes, Haslam & Turner, 1994) have shown that stereotypes are not rigid and fixed, and that they vary to reflect variations in the comparative context within which they are formed. In this paper we investigate stereotype variability in a sample of 6/7-year-old children. Participants describe a specific outgroup, and then describe the ingroup (that is ‘boys’ or ‘girls’, depending on the sex of the participant). There are two conditions: in condition one the outgroup is represented by adult ‘men’, if participants are boys, or by adult ‘women’, if participants are girls. In condition two the outgroup is represented by ‘girls’, if participants are boys, or by ‘boys’, if participants are girls. Results show that stereotypical traits attributed to the ingroup change significantly with changes in the frame of reference.