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Marie Gustafsson SendénAssociate Professor

About me

As a social psychologist my reserch areas focus gender, languge and gender equality (beyound the binary) at work.  For example, how gender diversity interventions influence potential candidates’ reactions to gender diversity interventions in personnel selection, or what types of gender diversity interventions that leads to the best working climate. (

In language studies, I assess social psychology phenomema by linguistic behaviour. I have used personal pronouns to study processes like self- and group serving biases as well as gender stereotypes. In current research projects, we investigate how a gender-neutral pronoun (hen) influence gender perceptions, identities and stereotypes ( I have developed an experimental task to test how people spontaneously use pronouns which has been used successfully both to assess self- and group serving biases as well as gender stereotyping.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Pronouns Beyond the Binary

    2021. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma Renström, Anna Lindqvist. Gender & Society 35 (4), 588-615


    Gender-inclusive language, such as the Swedish pronoun hen, may aid in breaking a binary notion of gender and avoid sexism. The present study followed the implementation of a gender-inclusive third-person pronoun singular (hen) in Swedish in two surveys with representative samples in 2015 (at the time when hen was introduced in the official Swedish dictionary; N = 1212) and in 2018 (N = 2009). The surveys comprised measures of attitudes toward, and use of, hen as well as possible predictors such as area of residence, age, preferred pronoun, political orientation, and interest in gender issues. Results showed that attitudes toward hen became more positive and that use of hen increased between 2015 and 2018. About half of the population used hen in their communication in 2018, which is a 14-percentage-point increase from 2015. Younger age, she or hen as preferred pronoun, political left-wing orientation, and interest in gender issues predicted a more positive attitude and a more frequent use. Furthermore, the positive change between 2015 and 2018 was larger among younger people, indicating that hen will remain in the Swedish language. The present research is unique in that it follows a gender-fair language initiative during its implementation in representative samples, thereby providing insights for social movements aiming for gender-fair language. We also discuss the theoretical implications of a gender-inclusive pronoun in comparison with past studies on gender-fair language.

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  • Psychometric Properties and Correlates of Precarious Manhood Beliefs in 62 Nations

    2021. Jennifer K. Bosson (et al.). Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 52 (3), 231-258


    Precarious manhood beliefs portray manhood, relative to womanhood, as a social status that is hard to earn, easy to lose, and proven via public action. Here, we present cross-cultural data on a brief measure of precarious manhood beliefs (the Precarious Manhood Beliefs scale [PMB]) that covaries meaningfully with other cross-culturally validated gender ideologies and with country-level indices of gender equality and human development. Using data from university samples in 62 countries across 13 world regions (N = 33,417), we demonstrate: (1) the psychometric isomorphism of the PMB (i.e., its comparability in meaning and statistical properties across the individual and country levels); (2) the PMB's distinctness from, and associations with, ambivalent sexism and ambivalence toward men; and (3) associations of the PMB with nation-level gender equality and human development. Findings are discussed in terms of their statistical and theoretical implications for understanding widely-held beliefs about the precariousness of the male gender role.

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  • Of Caring Nurses and Assertive Police Officers

    2020. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Alice Eagly, Sabine Sczesny. Social Psychology and Personality Science 11 (6), 743-751


    Three studies demonstrated the expression of gender stereotypes in linguistic behavior. In Study 1, participants composed sentences describing a person by freely choosing from female- or male-dominated occupations, female or male pronouns, and communal or agentic traits. In Study 2a, participants chose traits to describe a person identified by a female- or male-dominated occupation and in Study 2b by a female or male pronoun and noun. In Study 3, participants chose traits for a person identified by both a female- or male-dominated occupation and a female or male pronoun. In general, participants chose more communal and fewer agentic traits for sentences containing a female- (vs. male-) dominated occupation and a female (vs. male) pronoun or noun. However, participants described women and men in the same occupation as similarly agentic or communal, demonstrating the primacy of role over sex information as predicted by social role theory.

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  • Defending the Sex/Gender Binary

    2020. Thekla Morgenroth (et al.). Social Psychology and Personality Science


    In the Western world, gender/sex is traditionally viewed as binary, with people falling into one of two categories: male or female. This view of gender/sex has started to change, triggering some resistance. This research investigates psychological mechanisms underlying that resistance. Study 1 (N= 489, UK) explored the role of individual gender identification in defense of, and attempts to reinforce, the gender/sex binary. Study 2 (N= 415, Sweden) further considered the role of individual differences in need for closure. Both gender identification and need for closure were associated with binary views of gender/sex, prejudice against nonbinary people, and opposition to the use of gender-neutral pronouns. Policies that aim to abolish gender/sex categories, but not policies that advocate for a third gender/sex category, were seen as particularly unfair among people high in gender identification. These findings are an important step in understanding the psychology of resistance to change around binary systems of gender/sex.

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  • What is gender, anyway

    2020. Anna Lindqvist, Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma A. Renström. Psychology & Sexuality


    In the social sciences, many quantitative research findings as well as presentations of demographics are related to participants' gender. Most often, gender is represented by a dichotomous variable with the possible responses of woman/man or female/male, although gender is not a binary variable. It is, however, rarely defined what is meant by gender. In this article, we deconstruct the concept 'gender' as consisting of several facets, and argue that the researcher needs to identify relevant aspects of gender in relation to their research question. We make a thorough exposition of considerations that the researcher should bear in mind when formulating questions about each facet, in order to exemplify how complex this construct is. We also remind the researcher that gender is not a binary category and discuss challenges in the balance between taking existing gender diversity into account and yet sorting participants into gender categorisations that function in statistical analyzes. To aid in this process, we provide an empirical example on how gender identity may be categorised when using a free-text response. Lastly, we suggest that other measurements than participants' gender might be better predictors of the outcome variable.

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  • The (Not So) Changing Man

    2019. Marie Gustafsson Sendén (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 10


    According to Social Role Theory, gender stereotypes are dynamic constructs influenced by actual and perceived changes in what roles women and men occupy (Wood and Eagly, 2011). Sweden is ranked as one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, with a strong national equality discourse and a relatively high number of men engaging in traditionally communal roles such as parenting and domestic tasks. This would imply a perceived change toward higher communion among men. Therefore, we investigated the dynamics of gender stereotype content in Sweden with a primary interest in the male stereotype and perceptions of gender equality. In Study 1, participants (N = 323) estimated descriptive stereotype content of women and men in Sweden in the past, present, or future. They also estimated gender distribution in occupations and domestic roles for each time-point. Results showed that the female stereotype increased in agentic traits from the past to the present, whereas the male stereotype showed no change in either agentic or communal traits. Furthermore, participants estimated no change in gender stereotypes for the future, and they overestimated how often women and men occupy gender non-traditional roles at present. In Study 2, we controlled for participants' actual knowledge about role change by either describing women's increased responsibilities on the job market, or men's increased responsibility at home (or provided no description). Participants (N = 648) were randomized to the three different conditions. Overall, women were perceived to increase in agentic traits, and this change was mediated by perceptions of social role occupation. Men where not perceived to increase in communion but decreased in agency when change focused on women's increased participation in the labor market. These results indicate that role change among women also influence perceptions of the male stereotype. Altogether, the results indicate that social roles might have stronger influence on perceptions of agency than perceptions of communion, and that communion could be harder to incorporate in the male stereotype.

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