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One or the Other: An Exploration of Gender Essentialism and Binary Categorization

Gender essentialism refers to the belief that binary categorizations of gender, “man and “woman”, are biologically driven and innate groupings. Essentialist beliefs can contribute to stereotyping and discrimination; however, research indicates these beliefs can be malleable and influenced by language. My study aims to clarify how linguistic gender categories support essentialist beliefs, which may, in turn, support inequality and discrimination. We hypothesize that participants in the binary judgment condition will report greater gender essentialism and stronger views of gender as a binary construct than those in the continuous judgment condition, with participants in the control condition falling in-between.