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Ducks Lay Eggs and Lions Have Manes: The Acceptability of Gender-Specific Minority Generic Sentences

Passanisi, A., Pace, U., Kabir, K. & Hampton, J. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0363-8232 (2021). Ducks Lay Eggs and Lions Have Manes: The Acceptability of Gender-Specific Minority Generic Sentences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(12), pp. 1998-2020. doi: 10.1037/xlm0001081


Minority characteristic generic statements such as ducks lay eggs are judged to be generally true of the class, despite being true of a minority of cases, such as healthy female ducks of egg-laying age. Five studies explored the factors responsible for the acceptance of minority generic statements about biological kinds. Studies 1 and 2 found that minority generic statements about animals that are true of just 1 sex were no more likely to be accepted as true of the class than were statements true of just 1 of 2 subtypes, not differentiated by sex. Further studies showed that gender-specific properties are more often accepted when related to reproduction (ducks lay eggs) than to appearance (deer have antlers). It is proposed that reproductive properties are more easily interpreted as referring to the kinds themselves, on account of their role in naïve biological theories of the kinds. The result supports the view that minority generics are accepted to the degree that they are embedded in naïve theories of a biological kind.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Publisher Keywords: generics, concepts, natural kinds, truth conditions
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QH Natural history
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Accepted Version
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