Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Psychology (Masters)

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 46 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Anna K Reiman

Committee Members

Cynthia Najdowski


attitudes, essentialism, gender non-binary identity, prejudice, Essentialism (Philosophy), Gender identity, Attitude (Psychology), Gender-nonconforming people

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Psychology | Social Psychology


Few studies have examined attitudes toward gender non-binary people (i.e., individuals who do not consider themselves as strictly men or women). I hypothesized that essentialism (i.e., the belief that social categories and group differences are inherent, informative, and immutable) might be a key predictor of these attitudes. Moreover, I predicted that essentialism would interact with how gender non-binary identity is defined, with essentialist thinkers finding the idea of a full rejection of the gender binary particularly unpalatable. In two studies, cisgender participants (Study 1 N=496; Study 2 N=227) read a definition of gender non-binary identity as representing a third gender or a rejection of the gender binary. Participants also reported their endorsement of general and gender essentialism, right-wing authoritarianism, Big Five traits, and attitudes toward gender non-binary individuals. I found that general and gender essentialism were negatively correlated with attitudes; however, contrary to predictions, these associations were not moderated by the definition participants read. In both studies, gender essentialism and right-wing authoritarianism emerged as the strongest predictors of attitudes. This research contributes to the existing literature by demonstrating that variables known to be robust predictors of prejudice, such as right-wing authoritarianism, are also strongly predictive of attitudes toward gender non-binary people. Moreover, the present studies also strongly suggest that gender essentialism is an important correlate of attitudes toward gender non-binary people.