Profiles

Marie Gustafsson Sendén

Vik universitetslektor

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Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 39 46
Email mgu@psychology.su.se
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 14
Room 348
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

My main expertise is the intersection of language, cognition, gender, and social behavior.

Language and communication are central in social relations and cognition. Linguistic behaviour can both reflect and influence how people perceive the world and social categories. Moreover, analyses of linguistic behaviours provide indirect assessments of psychological phenomena, like stereotypical beliefs and values, thereby protection against bias from demand characteristics that might be associated with other types of psychological assessment. 

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 influence gender perceptions, identities and stereotypes (www.genderfair.se). 

I use both experimental methods and computerized text analyses, such as Latent Semantic Analysis (Landauer & Dumais, 1997), LIWC  (www.liwc.net). In relation to gender we have developed dictionaries to assess agency and communion in large text corpora. 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. 

In applied settings, I study how organizational descriptions and job adverts influence perceptions of gender equality, gender distributions and perceived fit with the organization.

Another line of applied reserach investigates physicians’ health and career development from an intersectional perspective. Two large surveys have been completed (www.houpe.no). This European reserch project targets both organizational and indvidual factors that contribute to helath and development among physicians. Of special interest is how gender and etbnicity-based  harassment affect career paths and health. 

Studies on hen and gender-fair language are financed by the, Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and Forte. Studies on physician health was financed by AFA

 

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 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.

  • 2019. Agnieszka Pietraszkiewicz (et al.). European Journal of Social Psychology 49 (5), 871-887

    Four studies developed and validated two dictionaries to capture agentic and communal expressions in natural language. Their development followed the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) approach (Study 1) and we tested their validity with frequency‐based analyses and semantic similarity measures. The newly developed Agency and Communion dictionaries were aligned with LIWC categories related to agency and communion (Study 2), and corresponded with subjective ratings (Study 3), confirming their convergent validity. Very low or absent correspondence between proposed dictionaries and unrelated LIWC categories demonstrated their discriminant validity (Study 2). Finally, we applied both dictionaries to language used in advertisements. In correspondence to gender stereotypes, male‐dominated jobs were advertised with more agentic than communal words, and female‐dominated jobs with more communal than agentic words (Study 4). Both dictionaries represent reliable tools for quantifying agentic and communal content in natural language, and will improve and facilitate future research on agency and communion.

  • 2015. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma A. Bäck, Anna Lindqvist. Frontiers in Psychology 6

    The implementation of gender fair language is often associated with negative reactions and hostile attacks on people who propose a change. This was also the case in Sweden in 2012 when a third gender-neutral pronoun hen was proposed as an addition to the already existing Swedish pronouns for she (hon) and he (han). The pronoun hen can be used both generically, when gender is unknown or irrelevant, and as a transgender pronoun for people who categorize themselves outside the gender dichotomy. In this article we review the process from 2012 to 2015. No other language has so far added a third gender-neutral pronoun, existing parallel with two gendered pronouns, that actually have reached the broader population of language users. This makes the situation in Sweden unique. We present data on attitudes toward hen during the past 4 years and analyze how time is associated with the attitudes in the process of introducing hen to the Swedish language. In 2012 the majority of the Swedish population was negative to the word, but already in 2014 there was a significant shift to more positive attitudes. Time was one of the strongest predictors for attitudes also when other relevant factors were controlled for. The actual use of the word also increased, although to a lesser extent than the attitudes shifted. We conclude that new words challenging the binary gender system evoke hostile and negative reactions, but also that attitudes can normalize rather quickly. We see this finding very positive and hope it could motivate language amendments and initiatives for gender-fair language, although the first responses may be negative.

  • Article From I to We
    2018. Emma A. Bäck (et al.). The Journal of Social and Political Psychology 6 (1), 76-91

    Much of identity formation processes nowadays takes place online, indicating that intergroup differentiation may be found in online communities. This paper focuses on identity formation processes in an open online xenophobic, anti-immigrant, discussion forum. Open discussion forums provide an excellent opportunity to investigate open interactions that may reveal how identity is formed and how individual users are influenced by other users. Using computational text analysis and Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC), our results show that new users change from an individual identification to a group identification over time as indicated by a decrease in the use of “I” and increase in the use of “we”. The analyses also show increased use of “they” indicating intergroup differentiation. Moreover, the linguistic style of new users became more similar to that of the overall forum over time. Further, the emotional content decreased over time. The results indicate that new users on a forum create a collective identity with the other users and adapt to them linguistically.

  • 2015. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Sverker Sikstrom, Torun Lindholm. Sex Roles 72 (1-2), 40-49

    Previous research has shown a male bias in the media. This study tests this statement by examining how the pronouns She and He are used in a news media context. More specifically, the study tests whether He occurs more often and in more positive semantic contexts than She, as well as whether She is associated with more stereotypically and essential labels than He is. Latent semantic analysis (LSA) was applied to 400 000 Reuters' news messages, written in English, published in 1996-1997. LSA is a completely data-driven method, extracting statistics of words from how they are used throughout a corpus. As such, no human coders are involved in the assessment of how pronouns occur in their contexts. The results showed that He pronouns were about 9 times more frequent than She pronouns. In addition, the semantic contexts of He were more positive than the contexts of She. Moreover, words associated with She-contexts included more words denoting gender, and were more homogeneous than the words associated with He-contexts. Altogether, these results indicate that men are represented as the norm in these media. Since these news messages are distributed on a daily basis all over the world, in printed newspapers, and on the internet, it seems likely that this presentation maintains, and reinforces prevalent gender stereotypes, hence contributing to gender inequities.

  • 2014. Maja Wall (et al.). BMC Psychology 2, 53

    Background: Suicidal ideation is more prevalent among physicians, compared to the population in general, but little is known about the factors behind surgeons’ suicidal ideation. A surgeon’s work environment can be competitive and characterised by degrading experiences, which could contribute to burnout, depression and even thoughts of suicide. Being a surgeon has been reported to be predictor for not seeking help when psychological distressed. The aim of the present study was to investigate to what extent surgeons in Italy and Sweden are affected by suicidal ideation, and how suicidal ideation can be associated with psychosocial work conditions. Methods: A cross-sectional study of surgeons was performed in Italy (N=149) and Sweden (N=272), where having suicidal ideation was the outcome variable. Work-related factors, such as harassment, depression and social support, were also measured. Results: Suicidal ideation within the previous twelve months was affirmatively reported by 18% of the Italian surgeons, and by 12% of the Swedish surgeons in the present study. The strongest association with having recent suicidal ideation for both countries was being subjected to degrading experiences/harassment at work by a senior physician. Sickness presenteeism, exhaustion and disengagement were related to recent suicidal ideation among Italian surgeons, while role conflicts and sickness presenteeism were associated with recent suicidal ideation in the Swedish group. For both countries, regular meetings to discuss situations at work were found to be protective. Conclusions: A high percentage of surgeons at two university hospitals in Italy and Sweden reported suicidal ideation during the year before the investigation. This reflects a tough workload, including sickness presenteeism, harassment at work, exhaustion/disengagement and role conflicts. Regular meetings to discuss work situations might be protective.

Show all publications by Marie Gustafsson Sendén at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 17, 2019

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