Sluts and Mini-Skirts: Do Cognitive Load and Processing Mode Influence Stereotypical Thinking About Sexual Consent?


  • Vanessa Brickwood MacEwan University


Judgements can be based on effortful deliberation or generated quickly and automatically. Whether we are “thinking slow” or “thinking fast” can influence the outcome of our judgements and decisions. For instance, whether we are thinking more automatically or deliberately when judging others can influence how stereotypical our judgements are (Monteith, Woodcock, & Gulker; 2013). Building a culture of consent requires that people recognize and avoid stereotyped and erroneous beliefs about sex, gender, roles and responsibilities. This research project aims to examine whether stereotypical responding to stories about sexual consent failures occurs more when people’s responses are the product of quick and automatic thinking. Participants will be asked to read vignettes depicting sexual encounters; vignettes will include contextual information to support stereotypical thinking. Presentation of the vignette and single versus dual-task conditions will be varied between participants to encourage more or less reliance on thinking fast compared to thinking slow. We expect to see higher levels of stereotypical thinking for those operating under cognitive load and in conditions that encourage thinking fast. Understanding when stereotypical thinking is more likely in sexual consent scenarios can help reduce or correct potential errors in judgment.

Department: Psychology 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aimee Skye