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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2014 Jul;20(3):370-6. doi: 10.1037/a0035096. Epub 2014 Apr 14.

Lost in the categorical shuffle: evidence for the social non-prototypicality of black women.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University.
Department of Psychology, New York University.


The white male norm hypothesis (Zárate & Smith, 1990) posits that White men's race and gender go overlooked as a result of their prototypical social statuses. In contrast, the intersectional invisibility hypothesis (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008) posits that people with membership in multiple subordinate social groups experience social invisibility as a result of their non-prototypical social statuses. The present research reconciles these contradictory theories and provides empirical support for the core assumption of the intersectional invisibility hypothesis-that intersectional targets are non-prototypical within their race and gender ingroups. In a speeded categorization task, participants were slower to associate Black women versus Black men with the category "Black" and slower to associate Black women versus White women with the category "woman." We discuss the implications of this work for social categorical theory development and future intersectionality research.

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