Person (mis)perception: functionally biased sex categorization of bodies.
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Social perception is among the most important tasks that occur in daily life, and perceivers readily appreciate the social affordances of others. Here, we demonstrate that sex categorizations are functionally biased towards a male percept. Perceivers judged body shapes that varied in waist-to-hip ratio to be men if they were not, in reality, exclusive to women, and male categorizations occurred more quickly than female categorizations (studies 1 and 4). This pattern was corroborated when participants identified the average body shapes of men and women (study 2) and when we assessed participants' cognitive representations (study 3). Moreover, these tendencies were modulated by emotion context (study 4). Thus, male categorizations occurred readily and rapidly, demonstrating a pronounced categorization bias and temporal advantage for male judgements.