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Gender differences and similarities in dominance hierarchies in same-gender groups based on speaking time

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This study aimed at investigating whether all-women and all-men groups differed in their hierarchical organization and stability of their rank orders across time. One hundred and sixteen European, middle-class, noncollege women and men (average age: 38) participated in small-group discussions twice within a week with the same group members. Speaking time served as the behavioral dominance indicator on which group hierarchies were based. Additionally, group members rank ordered each other on dominance after each interaction. In the first session, all-men groups were more hierarchically structured than all-women groups. During each session, all-women and all-men groups showed a similar significant increase in hierarchical structuring. For both women and men, rank orders remained stable during interactions and from the first to the second session. Results are discussed in terms of three theoretical models describing dominance hierarchies.
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Sex Roles, Vol. 44, Nos. 9/10, 2001
Gender Differences and Similarities in Dominance
Hierarchies in Same-Gender Groups Based
on Speaking Time1
Marianne Schmid Mast2
Northeastern University, Boston
This study aimed at investigating whether all-women and all-men groups
differed in their hierarchical organization and stability of their rank orders
across time. One hundred and sixteen European, middle-class, noncollege
women and men (average age: 38) participated in small-group discussions
twice within a week with the same group members. Speaking time served as
the behavioral dominance indicator on which group hierarchies were based.
Additionally, group members rank ordered each other on dominance after
each interaction. In the first session, all-men groups were more hierarchically
structured than all-women groups. During each session, all-women and all-
men groups showed a similar significant increase in hierarchical structuring.
For both women and men, rank orders remained stable during interactions
and from the first to the second session. Results are discussed in terms of three
theoretical models describing dominance hierarchies.
INTRODUCTION
Dominance is an important dimension of social interactions (Gifford,
1991; Wiggins, 1979) and the emergence of dominance hierarchies in small
groups is well documented (e.g., Bales, 1950; Berger, Fisek, Norman, &
Zelditch, 1977). Research has mainly focused on how dominance hierar-
chies are formed (Mazur, 1985; Ridgeway & Berger, 1986) and much less
research effort was invested in the question of gender differences in the
1Parts of the reported data has been presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psycho-
logical Association, EPA, Baltimore, 2000.
2To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, Northeastern
University, 125 Nightingale Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; e-mail: MMAST@neu.edu.
537
0360-0025/01/0500-0537$19.50/0 c
°2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation
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538 Schmid Mast
formation of dominance hierarchies. Are men and women equally prone to
build dominance hierarchies or are men more likely to organize themselves
in a hierarchical way compared to women? This investigation aimed to shed
light on the potential gender differences and similarities of dominance hier-
archy structures in same-gender groups. Because conversational cues play an
important role in dominance processes in face-to-face interactions (Mazur,
1985; Ridgeway & Berger, 1986), speaking time served as the behavioral cue
to capture exhibited dominance in this study. Time talked is a widely used and
validated indicator of dominance (Mullen, Salas, & Driskell, 1989; Schmid
Mast, 2001; Stein & Heller, 1979). Nevertheless, group members’ reports
about how dominant they perceived each other were collected as well.
Origins of a Gender-Stereotypical View About Dominance Hierarchies
Dominance is a concept that has been used in a number of different
ways (Ellyson & Dovidio, 1985). In this study, dominance is understood as
the extent of influence and control one person exerts in a group interac-
tion. Hierarchy stands for the relative dominance difference among group
members. If one person is more dominant than another person, they are in
a hierarchical relationship. The stereotypical view of men being inclined to
form dominance hierarchies and women building egalitarian structures is
widely accepted (e.g., Bakan, 1966; Moskowitz, Suh, & Desaulniers, 1994).
Although it has never been empirically tested whether women are orga-
nized in a more egalitarian way than men, there is some indirect evidence that
seems to bolster this stereotypical belief. Men, for instance, are more success-
ful than women in gaining high-dominant positions in direct opposite-gender
encounters and emerge as leaders more often than women do even if women
are more dispositionally dominant (e.g., Golub & Maxwell Canty, 1982;
Hegstrom & Griffith, 1992; Megargee, 1969; Megargee, Bogart, & Anderson,
1966). And, research on leadership style showed that women possess a more
democratic or participative leadership style whereas men use a more au-
tocratic or directive style (Eagly & Johnson, 1990; Troemel-Ploetz, 1994).
Furthermore, men showed a stronger motivation to lead than women did,
at least in the context of competitive games and assertive situations (Eagly,
Karau, Miner, & Johnson, 1994), and have been found to be more compet-
itive and dominant than women in general (e.g., Adams & Landers, 1978;
King, Miles, & Kniska, 1991; Knight & Chao, 1989; Walters, Stuhlmacher,
& Meyer, 1998). Men being more motivated and successful in competitive
encounters than women seems to suggest that they are more prone to form
dominance hierarchies than women. This, however, remains to be tested.
The only research that looked at gender differences in terms of hierarchies
is research concerned with social dominance orientation (Pratto, Sidanius,
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 539
Stallworth, & Malle, 1994). Social dominance orientation describes an indi-
vidual’s preference for inequality among social groups. Men are higher in
social dominance orientation than women (Pratto, Stallworth, & Sidanius,
1997). However, the preference for a hierarchical or egalitarian social struc-
ture does not imply that people necessarily also form hierarchical or egal-
itarian structures on a behavioral level. This investigation focused on the
formation of dominance hierarchies based on behavioral observation.
The Formation of Dominance Hierarchies: Why There Might
Not Be a Gender Difference
As will be demonstrated, the stereotypical belief that men are more
likely to form dominance hierarchies than women not only stands in striking
contrast to the relative paucity of research addressing this particular ques-
tion, but also contradicts indications that are available from two theoretical
perspectives, Mazur’s biosocial model of status in face-to-face interactions
(Mazur, 1985) and expectation states theory (Ridgeway & Berger, 1986).
Mazur’s model posits that the allocation of ranks in newly formed
groups proceeds through face-to-face competition between members of the
group (Mazur, 1985). In a competitive encounter, individual A begins the
aggression that elicits stress in the recipient. The recipient can submit to or
revoke the aggression that elicits stress in A. The individual who fails to
sustain the stress engages in a deferent act to relieve stress. This is at the
same time the signal of acceptance of the lower rank.3There is no evidence
suggesting that the described mechanism should be different for men and
women. Consequently, Mazur expects that the process of hierarchy forma-
tion described by his model is similar in women and men (p. 378).
Research focusing on the formation of hierarchies within adult groups
was founded by Bales and his colleagues (Bales, 1950; Bales, Strodtbeck,
Mills, & Roseborough, 1951). They reported that in small discussion groups,
participation was unequally distributed among group members producing a
hierarchy. Subsequently, expectation states theory (Berger et al., 1977) in-
vestigated how external status characteristics (e.g., age, gender, competence)
influence the hierarchy formation in face-to-face task groups. In heteroge-
neous groups, these culturally based status characteristics lead to differential
expectations about how much each group member contributes to solve the
task (performance expectation). People with high performance expectations
3One important component in Mazur’s model, is that the motive to dominate and the final rank
order position are associated with the level of testosterone. Mazur’s model seems to be more
functional for men because a study by Cashdan (1995) showed that androgens were not related
to status in women. In general, however, little is known about the formation of dominance
hierarchies and the relationship between androgens and dominance in women.
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540 Schmid Mast
are given more opportunities to contribute, their contributions are more
valued, and they finally gain more influence in the group decision.
But how can power hierarchies develop in homogeneous groups (in
the absence of external status characteristics)? This question is relevant to
this investigation, which is concerned with same-gender peer groups (homo-
geneous groups). Expectation states theorists (Ridgeway & Berger, 1986;
Johnson, Clay-Warner, & Funk, 1996) suggest that during a face-to-face in-
teraction, group members differ in how much dominance behavior they ex-
hibit. As soon as such an inequality develops, it affects how group members
accept each other’s contributions resulting in differential expectations for
future contributions. Behaviorally dominant individuals are expected (and
given the chance) to influence the group more than less dominant individu-
als do. Because in same-gender groups gender does not work as an external
status characteristic any more, the formation of dominance hierarchies is
expected to be based on individual differences and should not differ for all-
men in comparison to all-women groups (Johnson et al., 1996). Some of the
existing empirical evidence seems to support this prediction (Johnson et al.,
1996; Ridgeway & Diekema, 1989).
Additional Evidence About Hierarchies in All-Women in Comparison
to All-Men Groups
Some indications about how women might organize themselves in face-
to-face interactions come from the area of developmental psychology. The
findings, however, are controversial. Some studies find no gender difference
in the extent of hierarchical organization in same-gender groups (Carlson
Jones, 1984; Parker & Omark, 1980). There is, however, also evidence for
all-girl groups to be more hierarchically structured than all-boy groups.
Charlesworth and Dzur (1987) observed 3- to 5-year-old girls and boys in
same-gender groups. Results revealed that girl groups tended to be domi-
nated more by a single individual than did boy groups. Boy groups built more
democratic structures. With regard to adolescents, Savin-Williams (1979) ob-
served all-boy and all-girl groups in a summer camp over a period of 5 weeks
and concluded that both girls and boys form hierarchical structures as time
goes by, but the hierarchies in all-boy groups remained more stable over
time than those in all-girl groups.
Three Models of Within-Group Dominance Organization
Savin-Williams’ study emphasizes an important distinction between the
degree of hierarchical organization and the rank order stability across time
(Savin-William, 1979), both distinct characteristics of dominance hierarchies.
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 541
The degree of hierarchical organization describes the extent to which rank
order positions differ from each other in dominance, in other words, how po-
larized in terms of dominance a group structure is. In a newly formed group,
an increase in hierarchical organization within the group is an indicator of the
formation of a hierarchy. Rank order stability over time indicates whether
the individuals maintain their rank order positions at different points in time.
Not many studies investigated stability of speaking time rank orders across
time. In a study by Aries (1976), all-men groups showed more stable speak-
ing time rank orders than all-women groups did over five 90-min sessions. In
contrast to this study, Aries neither explored the formation of rank orders
nor investigated the degree of hierarchical organization.
The degree of hierarchical organization and rank order stability across
time are independent of each other and different combinations of the two
have been discussed in the literature. First,the formation of a stable, linear hi-
erarchy has been called pecking order (Schjelderup-Ebbe, 1922). In pecking
orders, a hierarchy that remains stable over time has been formed (Table I).
In contrast, the egalitarian structure is characterized by an absence of hier-
archy formation and, as a consequence, rank order stability either does not
play a role because the differences in dominance between the individual rank
order positions is so small that we can hardly talk about a rank order at all;
or, because of the lack of dominance differentiation between the rank order
positions, these positions are supposed to switch quickly among individuals
so that they are completely unstable (Table I). These two models fit well
with the stereotypical gender difference in dominance hierarchies: Men are
thought to be organized according to pecking orders and women are said to
build egalitarian structures. However, a third possibility arises. What about
a structure that is characterized by a hierarchy formation but with changing
rank orders over time? Such a model has been proposed by Bischof-K ¨ohler
(1990, 1992): the crab basket structure. A basket full of crabs does not need
a lid to prevent the crabs from crawling out. Why? Because they crawl over
each other all the time making it impossible for even one to escape. Bischof-
ohler suggests that the behavior of those crabs is an analogue to female
Table I. Three Models Describing Within-Group Dominance Organization
Characteristics of Egalitarian Crab basket
dominance organization Pecking order structure structure
Hierarchy formation Yes No Yes
Rank order stability stable (unstable)aunstable
aIn an egalitarian structure, the differences in dominance between the rank order
positions are small and therefore expected to change quickly so that they can be
regarded as completely unstable; or, one could argue that it does not make sense
to talk about rank order stability at all since no hierarchy has been formed.
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542 Schmid Mast
dominance hierarchies: Each time one crab tries to crawl higher than the
others, they will hold her back by crawling over her, meaning that there is
always one crab in a higher position than the others—like in an established
dominance hierarchy—but the structure is completely unstable (Table I).
The goal of this study was to test whether all-women as opposed to all-men
groups differ in how hierarchically organized they are and how stable their
rank orders are over time. This would allow one to decide which of the three
models most adequately describes female and male dominance organization.
Assessing Behavioral Dominance
Because speaking time is a well-established measure of emitted dom-
inance behavior (Mullen et al., 1989; Schmid Mast, 2001; Stein & Heller,
1979), it has been used to assess group dominance hierarchies (Bales et al.,
1951; Kalma, 1991; Lamb, 1980). In this study, speaking time was selected
as the behavioral dominance measure on the basis of which dominance hi-
erarchies were assessed. It has to be kept in mind that there are social in-
teractions in which dominance is not necessarily related to talking much. In
an interview situation, for instance, the interviewee usually talks more than
the interviewer and therefore their relative dominance positions are not re-
flected by the amount of talk. To control for such potential influences and to
validate speaking time as a dominance indicator, an additional sociometric
peer measure of dominance was collected (see Method section).
Specific Aims of This Research
This research aimed to investigate whether all-men and all-women
groups differed in the degree of hierarchical organization and rank order
stability over time based on the observation of individual speaking time as
a dominance-related behavior during interactions. An emphasis was put on
potential changes in hierarchical organization during an interaction (by com-
paring beginning and end of a session) and between two interaction sessions
that lay a week apart. To maximize the ecological validity of the study, a
special effort in recruiting a community sample rather than college students
was undertaken.
METHOD
Participants
Fifty-eight adult women and 58 adult men, all parents of at least one
child aged between 4 and 6 years, participated in the study. Participants had
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 543
on the average 2.1 children (range: 1–4) and were recruited from an un-
related investigation about the cognitive development of 4-year-olds. The
study was conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of
Zurich in Switzerland. Women were on average 36.2 years old (range: 27–
47 years) and men 38.8 years (range: 28–63 years). Five participants lived
together with their partner without being married, all other participants were
married (average 9 years, range: 2–20 years). One man and one woman sep-
arated; she was in a new relationship and he was single. One participant
was Dutch, two were Germans, and all others were Swiss. Non-Swiss partic-
ipants were all fluent in Swiss German. All participants were middle-class
Europeans.
Participants formed 14 all-women and 14 all-men groups ranging in
group size from 3 to 5. Group sizes of all-men and all-women groups were
comparable (1 three-person all-men and 3 three-person all-women groups,
10 four-person all-men and 6 four-person all-women groups, 3 five-person
all-men and 5 five-person all-women groups). For most of the participants
(76%), their spouse participated in the study as well; the other 24% were
married men and women who participated without their partner. Within
gender, groups were randomly composed and none of the group members
was acquainted with each other.
It was crucial for this study to bring back the same groups for a sec-
ond session, thus necessary to recruit highly motivated participants. Self-
selection4and no reward for participation were the measures taken to en-
sure high ego involvement. The few dropouts (three late arrivals for the first
session, three participants missing for the second session) imply that this
goal was successfully achieved, and that the discussion topic was interest-
ing for parents with children of this age. Participants were not paid for their
participation. The high compliance rate is even more remarkable taking into
account that all participants had to provide a baby sitter for their children or
at least coordinate their visit in our lab so that their spouse could look after
the children.
Procedure
Groups were scheduled by telephone in the evening or on weekends.
Participants had to commit to two prescheduled sessions within a week to
guarantee that group sessions were repeated with the same members after
4Self-selection usually increases the motivation to participate in a study but it might also pro-
duce interaction behavior that is not entirely representative for small groups in general, thus
potentially reducing external validity of the study. Because the focus of this study was bring-
ing back the same groups for a second session, it was necessary to recruit highly motivated
participants via self-selection despite the possible drawbacks of self-selection.
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544 Schmid Mast
1 week. At the beginning of the first session, some sociodemographic vari-
ables were assessed. Each group session took place according to the same
pattern both times. A 45-min group discussion was followed by a group de-
cision task of about 30 min (not reported in this paper because it proved to
be poorly related to the concept of dominance). At the end of the session,
participants were asked to fill in a sociometric questionnaire about the other
group members.
Upon arrival at the lab, participants were seated in a waiting room.
Group discussions took place in a separate room. Participants sat around a
table in a semicircle facing a two-way mirror. Microphones were installed
above the table. Participants’ consent to videotape the discussion from be-
hind the two-way mirror was obtained. The discussion topic was “How to
bring up children nowadays?” Some input questions on a sheet of paper
were handed out at the beginning of each group discussion and read aloud.
In the two sessions, the input questions were different but all focused on the
topic of child rearing. For instance, input questions or statements during the
first session comprised: “What do I consider important in bringing up my
child/my children? It is important to me that my child has table manners,
that my child is polite, that my child does not make too much noise, that
my child can defend him- or herself, that my child can play alone,” “If my
child/my children don’t behave like I want them to, how do I try to influ-
ence their behavior?” “Is punishment a successful child rearing strategy?”
And if yes, “in what kind of situations?” “Is letting my child/my children do
what they want to a successful child rearing strategy?” And if yes, “in what
kind of situations?” During the second session, input questions comprised:
“What do I consider important in bringing up my child/my children? It is
important to me that my child is autonomous, that my child obeys his or
her mother/father, that my child is open toward others, that my child adapts
in a group, that my child is not aggressive,” “What do I want to avoid in
my child rearing strategies that my parents did to me?” “Did I have ideas
about how to bring up children before I had them?” “If I show my child/my
children that I am hurt, is this punishment for him or her/them?” and “How
important is it to be consequent in punishing?”
The experimenter left the room and returned after 45 min elapsed. The
group proceeded to solve the decision task during the next 30 min (not re-
ported here). To fill out the sociometric questionnaire, participants were
guided to a classroom where they sat in a circle. Each participant’s seat had
a random letter attached, visible for all other group members. Participants
were then asked to fill out the sociometric questionnaire by rank order-
ing all other group members with respect to different adjectives, using the
anonymous letters as identifiers.
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 545
Measures
Behavioral Dominance Assessment
Based on findings indicating speaking time as a reliable indicator of
dominance, sequences of 8 min at the beginning and at the end of each
45-min discussion interval were selected for the registration of the time
talked. One rater coded speaking time for all participants and a second rater
coded 20% of all tapes. The interrater reliability was r=.99, p<.0001.
There were two reasons to select 8-min segments at the beginning and the
end of the interaction for the analysis. First, Kalma (1991) could show that
rank orders with respect to speaking time emerged after 1 min of interaction
time in dyads and triads and that those rank orders remained stable over the
whole observation period of 8 min. This is an indication that a hierarchical
structure forms quickly in newly formed groups. However, a 1- or 2-min
observation period seemed very short for groups of 3–5 participants. An in-
spection of the videotapes indicated that with two exceptions (2 participants
out of 116) each group member of the three- to five-person groups spoke
at least once during the first 8 min. This was the second reason why 8 min
were chosen. In general, studies measuring speaking time vary considerably
in how long group members interact and in the length of the time interval
chosen for coding speaking time. For instance, 7 min of a 40-min discussion
session were coded for speaking time in a five- to six-group member interac-
tion (Aries, Gold, & Weigel, 1983), or speaking time was measured during
the entire 8 min of a four-person group interaction (Ginter & Lindskold,
1975), or 4 min of a 4-1/2-min interaction were coded with respect to speak-
ing time in dyads (Kimble & Musgrove, 1988). In yet another study, the
entire 20-min interaction was coded for speaking time in five-person groups
(Ruback, Dabbs, & Hopper, 1984).
In this study, coding of speaking time duration by registering speaking
on- and offsets was performed with an event recorder. Speaking onset (or
offset) was coded when a person started (or stopped) vocalizing without
taking into account one-word sentences and laughter.
Degree of Hierarchical Organization and Rank Order Stability
A group would be organized very equally if all group members were
to speak for about the same amount of time. On the other hand, a group
can be described as being very polarized if some group members talk much
more than others. Differences in individual speaking time within a group is
labeled “degree of hierarchical organization.” As an indicator of the degree
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546 Schmid Mast
of hierarchical organization, any measure of variance is appropriate. In this
study, the degree of hierarchical organization within a group was defined as
the average absolute deviation of each group member’s speaking time from
the group mean.5
Stability of hierarchies across time refers to the degree to which partici-
pants maintain the same rank position over the course of time. Within-group
Spearman rank-order correlations were calculated for the comparison of the
beginning and the end of each session and the transition of the first to the
second session. For all-women and all-men groups these correlations were
pooled separately (Rosenthal, 1991), and combined probabilities accord-
ing to the Stouffer method (Mosteller & Bush, 1954) were calculated. The
within-group correlations are based on 3–5 participants and the mean rs are
based on 28 groups for overall results and on 14 all-women and 14 all-men
groups if results are reported for each gender separately. The emergence of
gender differences was tested by applying the standard contrast equation
(Rosenthal, 1991; Rosenthal & Rubin, 1982). Note that the degree of hi-
erarchical organization as well as the stability over time are characteristics
describing the group as a whole. Therefore, the level of analysis in this study
is the group and not the individual.
Sociometric Assessment
After each group discussion, a sociometric peer measure was admin-
istered. Participants were asked to rank order all group members except
themselves with respect to different characteristics. Each group member re-
ceived an average rank order position within his or her group. Based on this
measure, an overall perceived dominance scale consisting of the adjectives
dominant, assertive, attracting attention, committed, make suggestions, push
through own arguments, have a different opinion than the group, interesting,
and competent (α=.93, α=.94, first and second session, respectively), and
an overall perceived social positivity scale consisting of the adjectives nice,
friendly, pleasant, supportive, considerate, and adaptable (α=.86, α=.87,
first and second session, respectively) were constructed.
To assess the relationship between perceived dominance, perceived so-
cial positivity, and speaking time, the three variables were all correlated
with each other for each group separately. For each of the three relation-
ships (speaking time and perceived dominance, speaking time and perceived
social positivity, and perceived dominance and perceived social positivity),
5P|¯
XX|
Nwhere ¯
Xis the group mean, Xthe individual value, and Nthe number of group
members.
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 547
within-group correlations6were pooled to obtain an overall mean r, as well
as a mean rfor all-women and all-men groups separately (Rosenthal, 1991).
Combined probabilities and gender differences were calculated in the same
manner as for rank order stability.
RESULTS
Speaking Time as a Dominance Indicator
The dominance hierarchy assessment can only be based on speaking
time if we make sure that speaking time indeed is an appropriate measure
of dominance.7In order to externally validate whether speaking time func-
tions as a dominance indicator, the sociometric peer measure of dominance
was correlated with individual speaking time within each group (see Method
section, for detailed description). In all-women and all-men groups speaking
time showed significantly positive associations with being perceived as dom-
inant during both sessions (Table II and Table III). For the social positivity
scale, men showed negative associations between floor holding and being
perceived in a positive way during both sessions whereas women showed
a slightly negative association between speaking time and social positivity
only during the first session (Table II and Table III). This gender difference
was significant during the second session (Table III).
Degree of Hierarchical Organization
Because speaking time proved to be highly positively correlated with
the group members’ dominance ratings of each other, it is reasonable to
assume that within-group differences in time talked indeed reflect domi-
nance differences. The unequal shares of floor holding of all group members
can therefore be considered as indicative of a group’s dominance hierarchy
structure. As explained in the Method section, the average absolute devia-
tion of each group member’s speaking time from the group mean described
the degree of hierarchical organization.
6Because the perceived sociometric measures were aggregated rank order positions within each
group and therefore continuous rather than rank-order data and because speaking time was a
continuous variable, Pearson’s correlations were calculated. Calculating Spearman rank-order
correlations yielded the same results.
7No gender difference emerged with respect to the average time talked per person (first session:
t(26) =0.67, ns,t(26) =−0.11, ns; second session: t(26) =0.16, ns,t(26) =−0.46, ns, begin-
ning and end of session, respectively). Because the groups were given 45 min to discuss they
probably simply talked during the time available, thus no gender difference emerged.
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548 Schmid Mast
Table II. Correlation Matrix Between Speaking Time, Perceived Dominance, and Perceived
Social Positivity During the First Session
Dominance Social positivity
Total Women Men Total Women Men
Speaking time .51∗∗∗∗ .42.59∗∗∗∗ .35.32 .39
Dominance .51∗∗ .73∗∗∗∗ .19
Note. Entries are effect sizes, based on pooled within-group correlations. Because the per-
ceived characteristics are rank orders (each individual received an average rank within his or
her group) and speaking times were durations, negative correlations, mean positive associa-
tions, and positive correlations signify negative associations. No significant gender difference
emerged for the association between dominance and speaking time (Zcontrast =0.43) and for
the association between social positivity and speaking time (Zcontrast =0.61). A marginally
significant gender difference concerning the relationship between dominance and social posi-
tivity emerged (Zcontrast =1.61, p<.10).
p<.05. ∗∗ p<.01. ∗∗∗ p<.001. ∗∗∗∗ p<.0001, two-tailed.
Performing a 2 (gender) ×2 (within-session: beginning vs. end of ses-
sion) ×2 (between-sessions: first vs. second session) ANOVA with the two
latter factors as repeated measures and the degree of hierarchical organiza-
tion as the dependent measure, revealed a marginally significant main effect
for gender, F(1, 26) =3.47, p=.074, indicating that men tended to form
hierarchies to a greater degree than did women, Ms=533.50 versus 449.97,
effect size r=.34. In addition, a main effect for the within-session variable,
F(1, 26) =17.32, p=.0003, revealed that the hierarchical organization of
the groups was stronger at the end of the sessions than at the beginning,
Ms=559.82 versus 423.64, effect size r=.63. A marginally significant gen-
der ×between-sessions interaction also occurred, F(1, 26) =3.26, p=.082,
effect size r=.33 (see Fig. 1).
Table III. Correlation Matrix Between Speaking Time, Perceived Dominance, and Perceived
Social Positivity During the Second Session
Dominance Social positivity
Total Women Men Total Women Men
Speaking time .66∗∗∗∗ .58∗∗ .74∗∗∗∗ .26 .04 .52
Dominance .32∗∗ .46∗∗ .16
Note. Entries are effect sizes, based on pooledwithin-group correlations. Because the perceived
characteristics are rank orders (each individual received an average rank within his or her group)
and speaking times were durations, negative correlations, mean positive associations, and pos-
itive correlations signify negative associations. There was one significant gender difference
for the associations between social positivity and speaking time (Zcontrast =2.02, p<.05,
two-tailed). No significant gender difference emerged for the dominance and speaking-time
associations (Zcontrast =1.09) as well as for the dominance and social positivity associations
(Zcontrast =0.95).
p<.05. ∗∗ p<.01. ∗∗∗ p<.001. ∗∗∗∗ p<.0001, two-tailed.
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 549
Fig. 1. Degree of hierarchical organization within a group, based on aver-
age deviation of speaking time from group mean (in tenths of seconds),
in same-gender groups, at the beginning (BEG) and at the end (END)
of the first (1st) and the second (2nd) session.
All-men groups being more hierarchically organized than all-women
groups was mainly due to the first session. A 2 ×2 ANOVA for each
session separately was calculated with gender as the between-group fac-
tor, beginning and end of the session as the within-group factor, and the
degree of hierarchical organization as the dependent variable. During the
first session, all-men groups were more hierarchically structured than all-
women groups, Ms=599.18 versus 446.18, F(1, 26) =5.57, p=.026, effect
size r=.42. However, during the second session, men were not more po-
larized in their access to speaking time than women, Ms=467.81 versus
453.76, F(1, 26) =0.74, ns, effect size r=17. The separate ANOVAs also
confirmed that all-women and all-men groups increased in hierarchical orga-
nization within each session, F(1, 26) =10.41, p=.0034, effect size r=.53;
F(1, 26) =4.93, p=.035, effect size r=.40; first session and second session,
respectively.
Stability of Rank Orders Across Time
Dominance hierarchies are characterized not only by the degree of
hierarchical organization within a group but also by how stable the rank or-
ders are over time. Focusing on stability of speaking time rank orders across
time (see Method section, for detailed description of the calculation), both
women and men showed significantly stable rank orders. When the begin-
ning and end of the first session were compared, individuals could be found
in the same dominance positions: The mean racross all-women groups was
.63 ( p<.01, two-tailed) and across all-men groups .68 ( p<.001, two-tailed;
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550 Schmid Mast
no gender difference, Zcontrast =0.66). At the transition of the first to the
second session, rank positions did not change for all-men groups (mean r
across all-men groups =.54, p<.05, two-tailed) and also remained stable
for all-women groups (mean racross all-women groups =.49, p<.05, two-
tailed). No gender difference emerged (Zcontrast =0.15). For the compari-
son of beginning and end of the second session, all-men as well as all-women
groups showed stable rank orders (mean r=.39, p<.05; mean r=.74,
p<.0001; both two-tailed, all-women and all-men groups, respectively; no
gender difference, Zcontrast =1.41).
In terms of stability of the perceived dominance rank order, all-women
and all-men groups again showed stable rank orders across time, meaning
that individuals were perceived in the same rank positions in the first and
the second session (mean racross all-women groups =.75, p<.0001, two-
tailed; mean racross all-men groups =.78, p<.0001, two-tailed; no gender
difference, Zcontrast =1.07). How socially positive group members were
perceived relative to each other also remained the same for the first and the
second session, for both all-women groups (mean r=.62, p<,.001, two-
tailed) and all-men groups (mean r=.80, p>.0001, two-tailed; no gender
difference, Zcontrast =0.27).
The Relationship Between Perceived Dominance
and Perceived Social Positivity
The relationship between perceived dominance and perceived social
positivity was different for women and men. Within-group correlations be-
tween perceived dominance and perceived social positivity showed a pos-
itive association between the two variables for all-women groups but not
for all-men groups (Table II and Table III). This gender difference was
marginally significant only during the first session and nonsignificant dur-
ing the second session (Table II and Table III). Bolstering this finding, a
principal components analysis of the perceived dominance and perceived
social positivity composite for the first and second session revealed a two-
factor solution for all-men groups and a one-factor solution for all-women
groups (factors with eigenvalue >1). Taken together, these results show that
perceived dominance is unrelated to perceived social positivity in all-men
groups. Conversely, in all-women groups, these two variables converge.
DISCUSSION
This investigation compared the emergence of dominance hierarchies
in all-women and all-men groups with respect to the degree of hierarchical
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 551
organization and stability of rank orders over time. This comparison allows
us to draw some conclusion as to which one of the three models introduced
for describing dominance hierarchies (pecking order, egalitarian structure,
and crab basket structure, see Table I) is best suited to describe all-women
groups and which one is most adequate to characterize all-men groups.
Results indicated that in informal all-men and all-women face-to-face
group gatherings, hierarchical organization regarding speaking time showed
an increase from the beginning to the end of each session (Fig. 1). The
results for stability of hierarchies showed that for both women and men, on
average, rank orders remained stable over the course of the interactions as
well as between the first and the second session. This rank-order stability
could not only be found for hierarchies based on speaking time but also for
hierarchies based on perceived dominance. Based on the results about the
formation and stability of the rank orders across time, it can be concluded
that male as well as female dominance hierarchies are best described by
the pecking order model. In other words, women and men tend to form
stable dominance hierarchies during same-gender interactions. The absence
of a gender difference in the formation of dominance hierarchies confirms
the predictions made by Mazur’s biosocial model of status (Mazur, 1985)
and expectation states theory (Ridgeway & Berger, 1986) suggesting that
mechanisms at work while dominance hierarchies are formed are the same
for women and men.
If hierarchy formation only occurred in areas that are relevant to group
members, it could be argued that all-women groups formed rank orders in
this investigation only because of the discussion topic being more relevant,
interesting, and familiar8to women. If this were the case, the results may
have to be qualified; women may only form hierarchies within a context that
is familiar to them. Future research in this area might pursue this avenue and
explore how topic familiarity affects the formation of dominance hierarchies
in both genders separately.
Although women and men formed hierarchical structures, there was
a significant gender difference for the first session indicating that all-men
groups were more hierarchically organized than all-women groups (Fig. 1).
All-women and all-men groups increased in hierarchical structuring within
each session to the same extent but men had more pronounced hierarchies
to begin with. If strangers meet for the first time, there appears to be a
substantial gender difference in the initial hierarchical organization within
8It is possible that the subject of child rearing was more relevant for mothers than for fathers
simply because they spent more time with their children. Only some of the mothers worked
in a paid job usually for less than a day per week whereas almost all fathers worked in a paid
job 5 days a week (significant gender difference in the amount of time spend working in a paid
job, t(110) =15.47, p<.0001).
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552 Schmid Mast
the groups that confirms the stereotypical belief that many people have about
dominance hierarchies and gender. It is remarkable, though, that despite
women being less hierarchically organized at the beginning of an initial
encounter, they also start forming a hierarchical structure comparable to the
one in men. All-women groups have the potential to form hierarchies to the
same extent as all-men groups (their increase in hierarchical structuring is
the same, see Fig. 1) and the characteristics of their hierarchies, like stability
of their rank orders, are comparable to those of all-men groups. In light of
the initial gender difference one might speculate that it just takes women
longer to start the hierarchy-forming process but once started it progresses
equally for women and men.
Why are men more hierarchically organized than women during the first
session? One possible explanation might be that men organize themselves
in a much more hierarchical way during a first encounter like a “default”
mechanism. The fact that men are found to be more competitive and dom-
inant than women (Adams & Landers, 1978; King et al., 1991; Knight &
Chao, 1989; Walters et al., 1998) could be responsible for men forming a
hierarchical structure instantly, or at least much quicker than women.
Between the sessions the level of hierarchical organization was not
maintained. It seems as if the hierarchical structure was built anew in each
encounter in both all-women and all-men groups. In stable pecking orders,
one would not necessarily expect the degree of hierarchical organization to
drop from one encounter to another. This might, however, be explained by
the fact that one entire week without any contact among group members
lay between the two sessions. But why was the overall degree of hierar-
chical organization in all-men groups lower during the second session if
compared to the first one (Fig. 1)? Maybe men realized that the nature of
these encounters was noncompetitive and informal once they went through
an entire first session. Additionally, men of this age might be less competi-
tive than college students according to Cashdan (1998) who found that men
decrease in competitiveness with age. These two factors combined might
be the reason why all-men groups started the second interaction less hier-
archically structured than the first one. In sum, these latter findings show
that men are prone to organize themselves in a hierarchical way as soon
as they gather together, much more so than women. However, the con-
clusion that men are always more hierarchically organized than all-women
groups can be questioned based on the results reported. The lack of re-
search looking at the formation of dominance hierarchies over different
points in time might have contributed to the dichotomized view of male
and female dominance hierarchies. This study made it clear that it is impor-
tant to apply a more “long-term” perspective when investigating dominance
hierarchies.
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Gender and Dominance Hierarchies 553
If the assessment of dominance hierarchies is based on speaking time as
in this study, it is important to address whether speaking time is used to con-
vey dominance by women and men equally. Focusing on the meaning of the
amount of time talked during an interaction, different uses of talk have been
debated for women and men. Tannen (1990) reasons that men take up more
speaking time than women in public situations whereas women talk more in
private settings. Women use talk to establish and maintain relationships, to
indicate participation and interest and men are supposed to use talk to con-
vey dominance (Aries, 1976; Tannen, 1990). Results of this study showed that
the amount of time talked was positively associated with being perceived as
dominant in all-men as well as in all-women groups and those associations
did not differ in all-men compared to all-women groups. However, during
the second session, being nice, friendly, supportive, etc., was negatively asso-
ciated with the amount of time talked in all-men groups only. It might be the
case that speaking time is a more distinct indicator of dominance (positively
related to dominance and negatively related to socially positive impressions)
for men than for women, even more so if men are not complete strangers to
each other as it was the case for the second interaction. Moreover, the rela-
tionship between perceived dominance and perceived social positivity were
different for men and women. Dominance and social positivity were posi-
tively associated and loaded on the same factor for women. Conversely, the
two variables were distinct for men. This might reflect the aforementioned
gender difference in leadership style (Eagly & Johnson, 1990)—sometimes
also referred to as socioemotional versus task-oriented leadership style—
and might also explain why especially during the second session, speaking
time was a distinct indicator of dominance in all-men groups only.
All in all, this study contributes to the understanding of the nature and
development of hierarchical relationships in same-gender groups. Especially
the nature of female–female hierarchical relations has not gained much re-
search attention so far. An improved understanding is relevant, because
hierarchical structures emerge or are imposed on people in various domains
of their lives, most importantly in the workplace. It is foreseeable that in
the future, more and more women will be entrusted with top leadership po-
sitions in our society and will collaborate with female as well as with male
subordinates. The discovery of mechanisms and regularities of female dom-
inance hierarchies is key in empowering women to take over high-dominant
positions and in reducing conflicts and therefore increasing well-being for
women in high and low dominance hierarchy positions. Results from this
study suggest that despite men’s initially more pronounced dominance hi-
erarchy, confirming a widely held stereotype, women as well form domi-
nance hierarchies in same-gender groups. Future research should test to what
extent context (e.g., discussion topic, competitiveness of the setting), gender
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554 Schmid Mast
composition of the group, group size, different durations of group interac-
tions, and hierarchies based on other dependent variables (Schmid Mast, in
press) moderate the formation of dominance hierarchies differentially for
women and men.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was supported by a fellowship granted to the author from
the Swiss National Science Foundation (No. 81ZH-56123). I thank Norbert
Bischof and Doris Bischof-K ¨ohler for supporting my work and for making it
possible to collect the data at the Department of Psychology at the University
of Zurich in Switzerland. I am especially grateful to Judith A. Hall for her
most valuable suggestions concerning the data analysis and for her very
helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. I thank C. Randall
Colvin for his valuable suggestions concerning an earlier version of this
draft and an anonymous reviewer for many greatly helpful suggestions to
improve the manuscript. I am also thankful to Rainer Kirchhofer, Patrizia
Rizzo, and Miriam Schirmer for their responsible help in data-coding.
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... Both of the research ideas selected for crowdsourced testing were previously explored in the managerial and psychological literatures on gender, status, and group dynamics (Brescoll, 2011;Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000;Schmid Mast, 2001, 2002Spencer, Logel, & Davies, 2016). Hypothesis 1 posits that "A woman's tendency to participate actively in a conversation correlates positively with the number of females in the discussion." ...
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In this crowdsourced initiative, independent analysts used the same dataset to test two hypotheses regarding the effects of scientists' gender and professional status on verbosity during group meetings. Not only the analytic approach but also the operationalizations of key variables were left unconstrained and up to individual analysts. For instance, analysts could choose to operationalize status as job title, institutional ranking, citation counts, or some combination. To maximize transparency regarding the process by which analytic choices are made, the analysts used a platform we developed called DataExplained to justify both preferred and rejected analytic paths in real time. Analyses lacking sufficient detail, reproducible code, or with statistical errors were excluded, resulting in 29 analyses in the final sample. Researchers reported radically different analyses and dispersed empirical outcomes, in a number of cases obtaining significant effects in opposite directions for the same research question. A Boba multiverse analysis demonstrates that decisions about how to operationalize variables explain variability in outcomes above and beyond statistical choices (e.g., covariates). Subjective researcher decisions play a critical role in driving the reported empirical results, underscoring the need for open data, systematic robustness checks, and transparency regarding both analytic paths taken and not taken. Implications for organizations and leaders, whose decision making relies in part on scientific findings, consulting reports, and internal analyses by data scientists, are discussed.
... Both of the research ideas selected for crowdsourced testing were previously explored in the managerial and psychological literatures on gender, status, and group dynamics (Brescoll, 2011;Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000;Schmid Mast, 2001, 2002Spencer, Logel, & Davies, 2016). Hypothesis 1 posits that "A woman's tendency to participate actively in a conversation correlates positively with the number of females in the discussion." ...
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Full-text available
In this crowdsourced initiative, independent analysts used the same dataset to test two hypotheses regarding the effects of scientists’ gender and professional status on verbosity during group meetings. Not only the analytic approach but also the operationalizations of key variables were left unconstrained and up to individual analysts. For instance, analysts could choose to operationalize status as job title, institutional ranking, citation counts, or some combination. To maximize transparency regarding the process by which analytic choices are made, the analysts used a platform we developed called DataExplained to justify both preferred and rejected analytic paths in real time. Analyses lacking sufficient detail, reproducible code, or with statistical errors were excluded, resulting in 29 analyses in the final sample. Researchers reported radically different analyses and dispersed empirical outcomes, in a number of cases obtaining significant effects in opposite directions for the same research question. A Boba multiverse analysis demonstrates that decisions about how to operationalize variables explain variability in outcomes above and beyond statistical choices (e.g., covariates). Subjective researcher decisions play a critical role in driving the reported empirical results, underscoring the need for open data, systematic robustness checks, and transparency regarding both analytic paths taken and not taken. Implications for organizations and leaders, whose decision making relies in part on scientific findings, consulting reports, and internal analyses by data scientists, are discussed. Keywords: crowdsourcing data analysis; scientific transparency; research reliability; scientific robustness; researcher degrees of freedom; analysis-contingent results
... Considering that men think they have to be strong and dominant, it can offend their self-esteem if they have to show fear and weakness in front of a group. Women interact less hierarchically in women-only groups, which can result in problems in mixed gender groups [14]. Even if there is no inal consensus on different ways of communication styles between men and women, there is a need of gender-related research. ...
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... Altogether, these findings strongly suggest that the addition of women to an otherwise all-male team will result in a mental shift by all team members (male and female) toward team-oriented norms and a psychologically safe atmosphere. In comparison with all-male groups, for example, groups with female members are found to display more egalitarian behaviors-such as equal communication among group members and shared leadership (Berdahl and Anderson 2005, Mast 2001, Woolley et al. 2010. Such a supportive environment encourages team members to speak up when noticing problems (Gong et al. 2012, Siemsen et al. 2009), to offer and accept constructive criticism when there are disagreements (Bradley et al. 2012), to benefit more from feedback (Edmondson 1999), and to propose novel perspectives on the task at hand (Choo et al. 2007)-without worrying about being criticized, disliked, or even punished for doing so (Bradley et al. 2012, Edmondson 1999, Edmondson and Lei 2014). ...
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Book
The study of nonverbal behavior has substantially grown in importance in social psychology during the past twenty years. In addition, other disciplines are increas­ ingly bringing their unique perspectives to this research area. Investigators from a wide variety of fields such as developmental, clinical, and social psychology, as well as primatology, human ethology, sociology, anthropology, and biology have system­ atically examined nonverbal aspects of behavior. Nowhere in the nonverbal behavior literature has such multidisciplinary concern been more evident than in the study of the communication of power and dominance. Ethological insights that explored nonhuman-human parallels in nonverbal communication provided the impetus for the research of the early 19708. The sociobiological framework stimulated the search for analogous and homologous gestures, expressions, and behavior patterns among various species of primates, including humans. Other lines of research, in contrast to evolutionary-based models, have focused on the importance of human developmental and social contexts in determining behaviors associated with power and dominance. Unfortunately, there has been little in the way of cross-fertilization or integration among these fields. A genuine need has existed for a forum that exam­ ines not only where research on power, dominance, and nonverbal behavior has been, but also where it will likely lead. We thus have two major objectives in this book. One goal is to provide the reader with multidisciplinary, up-to-date literature reviews and research findings.
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One hundred and one college students were observed in small-group discussion situations to determine the degree to which a previously administered personality measure predicted overt verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Results indicated that within all-male and all-female groups, scores on a measure of dominance exhibited only modest power to predict the frequency of any single behavior but were highly correlated with the overall pattern of dominance-related behaviors displayed by the subjects. In addition, situational influence was indicated by the negligible personality-behavior correlations obtained for both men and women in the mixed-sex discussion groups.
Chapter
Nonverbal behavior, defined simply, is behavior that is not part of formal, verbal language. In psychological terms, nonverbal behaviors generally refer to facial expressions, body movements, and eye, hand, and feet behaviors that have some significance in social interaction. Philosophers, poets, and writers have long been aware of nonverbal messages—messages communicated without spoken words: “The face is the mirror of the mind and eyes without speaking confess secrets of the heart” (St. Jerome); “Each of our gestures carries the weight of a commitment” (Satre); “For a touch I yield” (Tennyson).
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This paper proposes an expectation states theory of the legitimation of power and prestige orders in task groups. Valued status positions are a reward for those whose distribution members develop expectations. The more differentiated these expectations, the more likely that the power and prestige order will be treated as legitimate. Applying our formulation to various types of group structures we derive a set of theoretical assertions that relate the initial status composition of a group to the likelihood that its power and prestige order becomes legitimatized. These predict, among other things, that legitimation of structure is more likely to develop in heterogeneous status consistent groups than in groups that are initially homogeneous, and it is more likely to develop in the latter groups than in heterogeneous status inconsistent groups. If verified, these predictions will provide an explanation for the difficulty that those who operate from a disadvantaged external status position, such as women and minorities in mixed sex or bi-racial groups, often face in trying to wield directive power over their members even when they are task leaders.
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In this paper we examine the possible effects of the social composition of authority structures on interaction in same-sex task groups in organizations. We derive predictions about the effects of authority structures and gender on group members' task and positive socioemotional behavior from two theoretical explanations: status characteristics theory (SCT) and its extension, and the socialization/normative approach. To test the predictions, we compare members' behaviors in all-male and all-female groups in a male-dominated coeducational college and all-female groups in a female-dominated women's college. Contrary to several often-cited previous studies, we find few gender differences between same-sex groups in task and positive socioemotional behavior. Women and men in same-sex groups have similar rates of active task behaviors, directive behaviors, positive socioemotional behaviors, and passive task behaviors; these findings support the original formulation of status characteristics theory. Two gender, differences emerge, however, providing some support for the socialization/normative approach: Women have higher rates of agreements than men, and men have higher rates of counterarguments. Finally, the social composition of authority structure has little effect on group members' task and socioemotional behavior in these organizational settings.