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Normal categorization processes

Wilder (1981) suggested that partisanship of their own and those of others is the result of normal categorization processes (recall that we are categorizing in order to simplify the world around us and make it more cognitively manageable). He noted that such categorization processes often lead to the breakdown of people into two mutually exclusive categories - into the so-called friend and foe groups. Due to physical visibility and undoubted social importance, gender is well suited for the criterion of such a classification. Martin and Halverson (1981) suggested that the categorization process begins in childhood, when a child becomes able to perceive gender differences and determine his place in the gender category. When this happens, the children “realize that they belong to one group and do not belong to another ... after that, everything related to their group gets a positive rating from them, and everything related to other people's groups gets a negative rating” (p 1129).

According to Wilder (1981), such group categorization leads people to expect information that would further emphasize the differences between the two groups. In addition, gender categories act like schemes that guide the processing of external information that comes to us, and make us more sensitive to the perception of information that corresponds to our ideas about gender groups. Many studies have found that when people are divided into easily identifiable groups, they tend to exaggerate the differences that actually exist between them (e.g., Billig & Tajfel, 1973; see
also: Brewer, 1979). Taylor (Taylor et al., 19.78) also noted that, thanks to such categorization processes, intragroup differences are understated, and intergroup differences are exaggerated. However, this trend may depend on what differences are considered. Eagly & Mladnic (1989) found that men and women perceive gender differences quite significant in areas where their gender is viewed positively, but consider these differences insignificant when considering more negative assessments.

With regard to gender, we strive to ignore how different men are and how different women can be, and at the same time, we emphasize in every way how different women and men are from each other. Psychologists working on gender differences often point out that although on average some of the characteristics of men and women do differ, in fact there are much greater differences between men and women than between men as a group and women as a group. This tendency — to see more similarities among members of other people's groups — can be called the effect of homogeneity of the “alien” group (the tendency, for example, to say that “they are all the same”). Frable & Bem (1985) found that men who participated in their experiments more often confused the women who spoke before them, and women more often confused the men who spoke. A similar phenomenon is observed because we are more aware of the differences within our group, all the others seem to us similar to each other.
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Normal categorization processes

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