Gender essentialism predicts prejudice against gender nonconformity in two cultural contexts

Rachel D. Fine, Kristina R. Olson, Selin Gülgöz, Rachel Horton, Susan A. Gelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Gender-nonconforming children face a substantial amount of prejudice, making it important to investigate potential contributing factors. In a correlational study of 253 U.S. Midwestern and Pacific Northwestern 6- to 10-year-old gender-conforming children (Age M = 7.95, SD = 1.43; 54% girl, 46% boy; 77% White), we examined how gender essentialism (beliefs that gender is biological, discrete, informative, and immutable) and gender identity essentialism (beliefs that gender identity is immutable) relate to prejudice against gender-nonconforming children. We also examined whether these associations varied by the child's cultural context (rural, non-diverse, conservative vs. urban, more diverse, liberal). We found a positive correlation between gender essentialism and prejudice, in both cultural contexts. Additionally, children from the more rural context endorsed more essentialism and expressed more prejudice than did their counterparts from the more urban context. However, we found no differences in children's gender identity essentialism by cultural context and no association with prejudice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12720
JournalSocial Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • gender essentialism
  • gender identity
  • prejudice
  • rural
  • urban


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