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Group-level Gender Bias: How Nonverbal Behavior Impacts Assessments of Acceptance

Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly at risk for systemic and interpersonal discrimination. A pilot study indicated that cisgender participants can accurately discern groups of people that would be inclusive or accepting to gender diverse people. The aim of this study is to investigate if gender diverse people utilize nonverbal behavior cues to make inferences about a group’s potential acceptability toward gender diverse people, with a particular interest in the extent to which negative nonverbal behavior toward gender counter stereotypicality even when it is infrequent, may be used to make such inferences. Through an online study, cultural snapshots including an expresser and target in a 2(expresser: positive or negative nonverbal behavior) x 2 (target GS/GCS ratio: 6/2 or 2/6) between-subjects design were shown to participants followed by ratings of how accepting the characters in the clips would be of a hypothetical character with gender counter stereotypic behavior or preferences.

This was compared to a study with a cisgender population, and the predictions around gender identity interacting with expresser affect and clip majority were found to be not significant. There was no two-way interaction of expressor affect/clip majority or three-way interaction between expressor affect/clip majority/ gender identity on acceptance ratings. The study provides implications for social perception research with gender diverse individuals as well as the development of the cultural snapshot methodology and normative evaluations. Thinking past this study, improving the methodology with a larger set size, increased noise to signal ratio, more realistic cultural snapshots, and including implicit measures of normative evaluations.