Cat Person, Dog Person, Gay, or Heterosexual: The Effect of Labels on a Man’s Perceived Masculinity, Femininity, and Likability



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American undergraduates (192 male, 521 female) rated masculinity, femininity, and likability of two men (one highly masculine and unfeminine, one normally masculine with low femininity) from a videotaped interaction. Participants were informed that both men were cat persons, dog persons, heterosexual, adopted, or gay, or were unlabeled. Participants rated the men less masculine when cat persons than when dog persons or unlabeled, and less masculine and more feminine when gay than when anything else or unlabeled. The more masculine man received lower feminine ratings when a dog person than when a heterosexual, and higher masculine ratings when a dog person than when unlabeled. Labels did not affect likability. Overall, the gay label consistently promoted cross-gender attributions, the dog person label encouraged somewhat heightened gender-appropriate attributions, and the cat person label allowed for normative attributions.

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Society & Animals