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Sex Roles [sers] PP023-290873 November 28, 2000 16:14 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sex Roles, Vol. 43, Nos. 5/6, 2000
Deﬁning Discrimination in the Personal/Group
and Monica Biernat
University of Kansas
Members of low-status groups typically report that their group experiences
more discrimination than they do personally, a phenomenon referred to as
the personal/group discrimination discrepancy. It is hypothesized that ma-
nipulating the meaning of discrimination affects the personal/group discrim-
ination discrepancy. In three studies, 301 female undergraduates (259 Whites;
42 non-Whites) from a large midwestern university read vignettes depicting
discriminatory events that varied according to severity and frequency. Partic-
ipants in high-frequency conditions perceived both more personal and group
discrimination than low-frequency participants, and they showed smaller per-
sonal/group discrepancies. This effect was found for work-related discrimi-
nation and social sexism. Results indicate that severe and infrequent events
are what people typically think of as discrimination and that using the term
“discrimination ” affects personal and group judgments. The importance of
deﬁning discrimination when investigating the personal/group discrimination
discrepancy is discussed.
It is a well-known fact that women earn roughly 70 cents for every dollar
earned bya man. Furthermore, only half this wage disparity can be accounted
for by differences in age, major ﬁeld of study, and degreelevel (Hecker, 1998).
Given these facts, it is not surprising that women acknowledge that women
as a whole have been discriminated against. However, it is surprising that
women rarely acknowledge that they personally have been discriminated
against. This results in a dilemma: if discrimination at the group level does
exist, then at least some of the individuals who comprise that group must be
victims of discrimination.
Correspondence may be addressed to either author at University of Kansas, 426 Fraser Hall,
Lawrence, Kansas; e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation