Lost in the categorical shuffle: Evidence for the social non-prototypicality of Black women

Erin L. Thomas, John F. Dovidio, Tessa V. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The white male norm hypothesis (Zárate & Smith, 1990) posits that White men's race and gender go overlooked as a result of their prototypical social statuses. In contrast, the intersectional invisibility hypothesis (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008) posits that people with membership in multiple subordinate social groups experience social invisibility as a result of their non-prototypical social statuses. The present research reconciles these contradictory theories and provides empirical support for the core assumption of the intersectional invisibility hypothesis-that intersectional targets are non-prototypical within their race and gender ingroups. In a speeded categorization task, participants were slower to associate Black women versus Black men with the category "Black" and slower to associate Black women versus White women with the category "woman." We discuss the implications of this work for social categorical theory development and future intersectionality research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-376
Number of pages7
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014



  • Black women
  • Categorization
  • Intersectionality
  • Social prototypicality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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