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Essentialism, Power and Cultural Psychology of Gender

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This paper describes the results of our study of folk theories of Americans (N = 147) and Indians (Brahmins, N = 93; Dalits, N = 93), using a brain transplant paradigm. We found significant cultural differences between Americans and Indians (p < .001). The majority of Americans believed that a brain transplant would result in change in gender behavior whereas the majority of Indians, particularly Brahmin males, believed that a brain transplant would change only the gender behavior of men not women. Qualitative analysis of open-ended responses found that American men believed in the computational model of identity, whereas American women believed in the distributed notion of identity. Among Indians, Brahmin males believed in the biological notion of identity more than any other group.


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