Ethics. Research. Community.

Essentialism and the cultural psychology of gender in extreme son preference communities in India.

The American journal of orthopsychiatry. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Using a cultural ecological framework, the authors examined key psychological antecedents of a pressing public health problem in Tamilnadu, India: the persistence of extreme forms of female neglect including female infanticide and feticide. Community-based respondents (N = 798) were recruited from Tamilnadu, a south Indian state, from villages with highly male biased sex ratios. Study 1 examined beliefs about behavioral gender transgressions in the villages that are identified as having extremely male-biased sex ratios. Study 2 examined the same participants several weeks later, investigating beliefs about biological gender essentialism and attitudes toward violence. Although behavioral and biological aspects of gender were essentialized differently, a regression analysis controlling for SES and marital status found that the more men essentialized female identity, the more they endorsed violence against women and the less anxiety they felt. The authors conclude by discussing the cultural psychological implications of this asymmetry in the essentialist beliefs about gender.
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