Karen J. Prager, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

Professor of Psychology and  Program Head for Gender Studies

Diplomate in Family Psychology

The University of Texas at Dallas

More Information About Dr. Prager's work


Research on Intimacy

Processes in Couple Relationships 

Teaching and Professional Practice

Selected Papers and Publications


For Students:



Back to Psychology of Gender syllabus



1) Gender is a set of ideas (schemas) and a set of normative behaviors

2) Gender schemas are outside of awareness yet affect perception, interpretation, and memory

3) Gender schemas lead us to treat women and men differently

4) People respond to different treatment by behaving differently

5) Gendered behaviors may reflect different statuses and roles

The self-fulfilling prophecy:

***an initially false belief that itself causes the very behavior that makes it come true.

How does self-fulfilling prophecy process work?

A self-perpetuating cycle that requires effort to change.

The Cognitive Component:

Gender schemas: Conscious and unconscious.

The impact:

Prior knowledge affects perceptions

Stereotypes are part of prior knowledge

Situations prime schemas for use.

Outside of awareness.

The behavioral component

Men and women are treated differently.

At work

In school

During group discussions

The interaction between schemas and behavior:

Expectancy confirmation

Refers to how the self-fulfilling prophecy process

confirms the content of our schemas.

Confirmation: our stereotypes are supported by

what we observe in the other person.

We may be wrong: We may think our

stereotypes are being confirmed when something else

entirely is going on.

The effects of roles & status on behavior

Social roles themselves constrain behavior.

Person-situation interaction:

We choose (some) situations because of our personalities.

Those situations then shape our personalities. 

ambiguous situations:

Others' roles and status affect attributions.

When role & status are unknown, we are most likely

to rely on stereotypes.

We understand them by using stereotypes.

When we see sex-typed behavior, how do we explain it to ourselves?

1) The fundamental attribution error.

Behavior is due to disposition rather than role.

2) Error based on group consensus

Assuming common social constructions are true

because they are common.

3) Valuing what is common:

Assuming common social constructions reflect

genuine value.

That which is familiar is that which is right & good.