Generic statements assert default properties of a kind. They reflect the relevant features of our concepts and are considered by people generally true of the entire class despite the existence of counterexamples (e.g. birds fly). We report three experiments which explore the factors that lead to the acceptance of generic statements. In particular we examine whether properties that relate to gender differences (lions have manes, or ducks lay eggs) are more likely to be accepted than matched statements that refer to an arbitrary subclass unrelated to gender. Experiments 1 and 2 found surprisingly that gender-specific properties were less likely to be accepted than the neutral control properties. Experiment 3 showed by contrast that gender-specific properties are more acceptable when they relate to reproduction than to appearance-based gender differences. It is argued that reproductive properties are more easily interpreted as referring to a kind rather than to the set of individual members.
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