Psychological scientists, like lay people, often think in categorical dichotomies that contrast men and women and exaggerate the differences between groups. These value-laden divides tend to privilege one side over the other, often to the advantage of the scientists' own identity group. Besides balancing perspectives in the academic marketplace of ideas, scientists can recognize the complexity of stigma. Gender, like many categories, entails two fundamental dimensions that characterize intergroup stigma (and all interpersonal perception): perceived warmth and competence. These dimensions identify groups viewed with ambivalence (e.g., traditional women are stereotypically warm but incompetent, whereas professional women are allegedly competent but cold). In gender and in other areas, psychological scientists can go beyond value-laden dichotomies and consider the fundamental, continuous dimensions along which we think about stigma.
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