May 05, 2005

Follow up on the Gender Guessing Game

I was telling a couple of people the other night about my experience playing the Gender Guessing Game. They had played as well, and we compared notes. Anita Wilhelm and I both guessed correctly in our two tests, but we managed to do this in very different ways. Since the test only gave 5 minutes to figure it out, and two IM's had to be conducted at the same time, in order to guess the male and the female IMers, we each used very different strategies. Anita decided to just make general conversation, with the idea that girls are more tentative in the nature of their answers to questions but they explain a lot more. She said that the boys don't give any extra information and were more definite. She said it was obvious, using this criteria, who were boys and who were girls.

Since I felt under pressure to get answers quickly, and to start the test right when they gave me the IM's, I decided at the last second to ask them a series of questions about going out on a date, to see how they would manage the situation. I asked what they would do if they went out on a first date with someone they thought was really hot, and they wanted to sleep with them, and the opportunity was there, would they. In each case, the girls said no, they would want to go out more, but the boys said that no they wouldn't, but with caveats. The caveat was that if they knew they didn't want to see the date again, and could do it without any problem, they would sleep with the date. Based on that it was easy to figure it out, though the 5 minutes did fly by trying to get the answers.

So I was a little dismayed with myself, that I resorted to such stereotypes and this dating line of questioning to figure out gender, rather than Anita's more subtle route of just asking random questions to look for response style and tone. In retrospect, it was kind of funny to do it, but it also shows how easy it is to rely on stereotypes, even if those stereotypes are not true all the time. Using them allowed me to effectly figure out gender, very fast. It was sort of the Blink method, in a way, to just get a hit on something to understand it very fast, even though it's not at all deep or nuanced.

So when I told Anita and the others the other night, they thought it was very funny, and that I should report on what had happened. I'd love to hear how and what others did when participating in the study. I'm sure others used more interesting ways to determine the gender of someone in 5 minutes of IMing with them.

Posted by Mary Hodder at May 5, 2005 12:20 PM | TrackBack