Gender-Based Food Stereotypes Among Young Japanese



In the last few decades, some studies have demonstrated that people hold gender-related stereotypical attitudes toward foods and eating. These reports have mostly emanated from Western countries, whereas cultural differences in Asian countries have remained unclear. Here, we review the cultural aspects of gender-based food stereotypes and explore the feasibility of introducing implicit attitude measures for the study of food-related stereotypes. Measurements of stereotypical attitudes toward food have depended heavily on the self-reports of participants, which are susceptible to social desirability and self-presentation biases. Psychological techniques developed for measuring implicit attitudes are useful in avoiding such experimental biases. Thus, we elucidated gender stereotypes toward food among young Japanese using not only a self-report questionnaire, but also a semantic priming paradigm.

In studies 1 and 2, a two-phase cross-validation was carried out to uncover what food dishes are viewed as feminine or masculine among young Japanese. The foods considered the most masculine and those considered most feminine were screened in the first phase, and the candidate foods were explicitly assessed for their femininity or masculinity in the second phase. The masculine foods that were selected in the present study include both traditional Japanese dishes and Western dishes commonly consumed in Japan. Most of them are categorized as high-fat foods, a category which was also identified as masculine in a former study done using Western subjects. The feminine foods among young Japanese included low-fat foods as in former studies on Western consumers. Although some high-fat foods were also chosen, they were all sweets, and no meat or rice dishes were selected. It would be worth discussing the current results from a cultural perspective. In study 3, the semantic priming task, participants were asked to judge if a given forename was male or female immediately after presentation of a food name prime stimulus, which had been categorized as feminine or masculine food in a separate pilot study. The results showed that participants required significantly less time to verify the gender of forenames when the stereotyped gender of the food name and the gender of the forename were congruent than when they were incongruent. These findings demonstrate that a semantic priming paradigm is capable of uncovering implicit gender stereotypes toward food.


Gender Stereotype Semantic Priming Implicit Association Test Incongruent Condition Female Target 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Implicit Association Test


Analysis of Variance


Reaction Time



The authors thank Professor Takashi Oka, Mr. Daisuke Tsuzuki, and Mr. Sho-ichi Goto for their assistance in conducting this experiment and Ms Melissa Noguchi for examination of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by the Program for Promotion of Basic Research Activities for Innovative Bioscience (PROBRAIN), Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science 21330148 awarded to Y.W. and 20700588 awarded to A.K.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sensory & Cognitive Food Science LaboratoryNational Food Research InstituteTsukubaJapan

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