Calculators for Women: When Identity Appeals Provoke Backlash
28 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2019 Last revised: 15 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 4, 2019
From “Chick Beer” to “Dryer sheets for Men,” identity-based labeling is frequently deployed to appeal to people who hold the targeted identity. However, five studies demonstrate that identity appeals can backfire, alienating the very individuals they aim to attract. We begin by demonstrating backlash against identity appeals in the field during the 2016 presidential election (Study 1) and in the lab (Study 2). This (in)effectiveness of identity appeals is driven by categorization threat—feeling unwillingly reduced to a single identity—which is induced when a) the identity deployed is that of a typically marginalized group (Studies 3-4) and b) the appeal evokes a stereotype about that identity (Study 5). Ironically, identity appeals often drive identity-holders away from options they would have preferred in the absence of that appeal.
Keywords: Identity, Gender, Categorization threat, Stereotypes
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