How Threats to Masculinity Sequentially Cause Public Discomfort, Anger, and Ideological Dominance Over Women

Article (PDF Available)inSocial Psychology 46(4):242-254 · August 2015with 1,459 Reads
DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000248
Cite this publication
Abstract
This research examined whether threats to masculinity both inspired men's efforts to reestablish their power over women via the promotion of ideologies that implicitly subordinate women and occurred when men were outperformed by women in masculine domains. Masculinity was threatened by telling men they scored like women on a gender knowledge test (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), which sequentially led to more concern about how they were perceived by others, increased anger, and the increased endorsement of social dominance orientation (Study 1a) and benevolent sexism (Study 1b). Study 2 additionally shows that men experienced threats to masculinity when outperformed by women in masculine domains; when outperformed by a woman, men reported more concern about how they looked to others, which predicted increased anger and the subsequent sexualization of the woman. The findings link masculinity threats to the promotion of ideologies that implicitly subordinate women; the consequences of these linkages are discussed.
Original Article
How Threats to Masculinity
Sequentially Cause Public
Discomfort, Anger, and Ideological
Dominance Over Women
Julia Dahl, Theresa Vescio, and Kevin Weaver
Department of Psychology, Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA
Abstract. This research examined whether threats to masculinity both inspired men’s efforts to reestablish their power over women via the
promotion of ideologies that implicitly subordinate women and occurred when men were outperformed by women in masculine domains.
Masculinity was threatened by telling men they scored like women on a gender knowledge test (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), which sequentially
led to more concern about how they were perceived by others, increased anger, and the increased endorsement of social dominance orientation
(Study 1a) and benevolent sexism (Study 1b). Study 2 additionally shows that men experienced threats to masculinity when outperformed by
women in masculine domains; when outperformed by a woman, men reported more concern about how they looked to others, which predicted
increased anger and the subsequent sexualization of the woman. The findings link masculinity threats to the promotion of ideologies that
implicitly subordinate women; the consequences of these linkages are discussed.
Keywords: masculinity, power, gender, benevolent sexism, anger, dominance
Masculinity is a pervasive, high status identity that is rein-
forced by gender roles and stereotypes, which confound
masculinity with power over women (Connell, 1995;
Foucault, 1976). One finds appeals to masc ulin ity in c om-
mercials, TV shows, movies, games, and the news.
The power of masculinity is clear in psychological work
that conceptualizes masculinity as a formidable social
force; for instance, masculinity can harm men by limiting
their ability or their opportunity to express emotion
(e.g., Levant et al., 2003) and harm others by encouraging
or justifying men’s physical violence (e.g., Cohen, Nisbett,
Bowdle, & Schwarz, 1996).
However, we know relatively little about the means
through which masculinity affects men’s interactions with
and efforts to maintain power over women. Stereotypes
and gender roles help inform this issue. Stereotypically,
men and masculinity are associated with dominant roles,
leader-like characteristics, and power, whereas women
and femininity are associated with dependency, social sup-
port, and nurturance (Eagly, 1987; Eagly & Karau, 2002).
Traditional gender roles further prescribe that men protect
and provide for the fairer, gentler and, implicitly weaker
sex – women (Glick & Fiske, 1996, 2001). As a result,
when women perform well in socially valued and stereotyp-
ically masculine domains (e.g., business, science, govern-
ment), women demonstrate expertise and knowledge that
may challenge gender-stereotypic power differentials (i.e.,
exhibit expert power, French & Raven, 1959).
The present work considers whether power over women
is an important component of masculinity by examining
when and with what consequences men experience threats
to masculinity when confronted with reversals of gender-
stereotypic power differentials. Specifically, if power over
women is a critical component of masculinity, then men
who perform like women or who are outperformed by
women should experience threats to masculinity that elicit
concern about how they are perceived by others and efforts
to repair masculine self-images. Although masculinity
threats are sometimes linked to aggressive acts intended
to repair masculinity in the eyes of others (see Bosson &
Vandello, 2011), open acts of aggression represent a failure
of power (Jackman, 1994) that can arouse resistance
(Boehm & Flack, 2010). As a result, group-based inequities
are more effectively maintained through the promotion of
ideologies that persuade low power people to accept social
inequities (Jackman, 1994; Jost & Banaji, 1994; Pratto,
Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994).
The goal of this work is to consider three novel and
interrelated possibilities. If men’s power over women is core
to masculinity, then men should attempt to appease threats
to masculinity by asserting power over women, and experi-
ence threats to masculinity when they are less powerful than
women in a masculine domain. In addition, if threats to
masculinity inspire reparative efforts intended to reestablish
and maintain power over women, then men should engage
in forms of ideological dominance that could be used to
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000248
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
persuade low power people to accept power differentials. To
fully consider these issues and articulate our hypotheses, we
first define masculinity and review research documenting
the ways masculinity is threatened. We then review research
noting the consequences of threats to masculinity, including
concern about how one looks in the eyes of others and
aggressive behaviors that repair masculinity and maintain
the traditional gender-based status quo. Finally, we forward
three predictions specifying when and with what conse-
quences masculinity will be threatened.
Masculinity
Masculinity is a cherished social identity (e.g., Maass,
Cadinu, Guarnieri, & Grasselli, 2003) and achieved status
(e.g., Vandello, Bosson, Cohen, Burnaford, & Weaver,
2008) that is defined by three core characteristics that men
must demonstrate to be ‘‘good men’’ (Brannon, 1976;
Fischer & Good, 1998; Fischer, Tokar, Good, & Snell,
1998; Thompson & Pleck, 1986). First, men should behave
in ways that demonstrate power, status, and dominance,
particularly relative to women given heterosexual interde-
pendencies (Rudman & Glick, 2008). For instance, men
should influence rather than be influenced, lead rather
than follow, and control rather than be controlled (Vescio,
Schlenker, & Lenes, 2010). Second, men should exhibit
physical, emotional, and mental toughness (Brannon,
1976; Thompson & Pleck, 1986). In other words, men must
be able to withstand pain, forego expressing sadness, and tol-
erate difficult conditions without complaint. Third, men
should repudiate and distance from all that is feminine (e.g.,
no ‘‘sissy’’stuff, Brannon, 1976), gay (Pascoe, 2011), or other-
wise non-manly, including stereotypically feminine roles,
acts, and feelings (Bosson, Prewitt-Freilino, & Taylor, 2005).
When men fail to embodythe core characteristicsof mas-
culinity, they risk losing their masculinity (Brannon, 1976;
Thompson & Pleck, 1986). Stated differently, masculinity
is precarious and easily lost if not consistently enacted
through public demonstrations of the core characteristics
of masculinity (Bosson & Vandello, 2011; Gilmore, 1990).
Because men and women are stereotyped in oppositional
terms, lacking masculine attributes implies being feminine
and exhibiting feminine attributes implies failures of mascu-
linity. Consistent with this notion, empirical research shows
that masculinity can be threatened when men are like women
in knowledge (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), personality
(Schmitt & Branscombe, 2001), or roles (e.g., Bosson et al.,
2005; Bosson, Vandello, Burnaford, Weaver, & Wasti, 2009).
In addition, we predict that being less powerful than a
woman in a masculine domain should threaten masculinity.
Given stereotypes and gender roles that prescribe hetero-
sexual interdependencies and power relations (e.g., with
men as protectors and providers, see Rudman & Glick,
2008), at the core of masculinity is the notion that men have
power over women (Connell, 1995). Most valued achieve-
ment domains (e.g., business, politics, and physical sci-
ences) are stereotypically masculine domains, where the
attributes predictive of success are stereotypically linked
to men but not women. As a result, gender-stereotypic
power differentials are reversed when a woman outperforms
a man in a stereotypically masculine domain (Vescio et al.,
2010). The reversal of gendered power differentials should
render men subordinate to women and threaten masculine
social identities that require men’s power over women.
The Consequences of Threats to Masculinity
As a starting point for considering the consequences of
threats to masculinity, we review prior research. We then
discuss theoretical perspectives on the social psychology
of power to provide a basis for extending prior work and
forwarding novel predictions.
Prior Research
Prior research has documented two consequences of mascu-
linity threats. The first is an affective threat response that
stems from concern about others’ perception of the self.
The second is a reparative response that functionally rees-
tablishes one’s masculinity in the eyes of others.
First, when faced with threats to masculinity, men expe-
rience negative affect and concern about others’ perception
of the self, which we refer to as public discomfort.
For instance, after performing a stereotypically feminine
behavior, men have increased accessibility of threat-related
cognitions (e.g., completing _EAK as ‘‘WEAK’’ vs.
‘‘B E A K ’’ o r LO _ E R a s ‘‘L O S ER’’ v s . ‘‘L OVER ’’ ; Va n d ello
et al., 2008) and report concern about being negatively
labeled (e.g., Rudman & Fairchild, 2004). Similarly, when
heterosexual men believe others might perceive them as
gay, they report increased public discomfort (Bosson et al.,
2005), whichis lessened when men are given the opportunity
to proclaim their heterosexuality, effectively distancing
themselves from imputations of gayness. Replicating prior
research, we expect that threats to masculinity will predict
increased public discomfort in the present research.
Second, prior research has linked masculinity threats to
acts of aggression, which have been suggested to be a par-
ticularly effective means of repairing masculinity (Bosson
&Vandello,2011;Cohenetal.,1996).Actsofaggression
demonstrate power, status, dominance, and toughness
(Bosson & Vandello, 2011; Cohen et al., 1996). In addition
to physical aggression, past research demonstrates that men
in masculinity-threatening situations also engage in other
types of aggressive behaviors to compensate for, or
‘repair,’’ their masculinity (Babl, 1979), such as sexual
aggression (Maass et al., 2003).
Importantly, however, whereas aggression may immedi-
ately and effectively reestablish one’s masculinity, open acts
of aggression are not effective ways to maintain group-
based power differentials. Open acts of aggression represent
failures of power (Jackman, 1994) that, when commonly
used, inspire resistance from the relatively powerless, who
form alliances to control and limit aggressive uses of power
(Boehm & Flack, 2010). To maintain power, particularly
gender-based power inequities that derive from intimate
heterosexual interdependencies (Glick & Fiske, 1996,
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 243
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
1999, 2001), stereotypes and gender roles function as ideol-
ogies that legitimate and justify men’s power over women
(see Rudman & Glick, 2008). When threats to power are
responded to via the promotion of such ideologies, rather
than open acts of aggression (see Raven, Schwarzwald, &
Koslowsky, 1998), members of subordinate groups are
more likely to tolerate rather than challenge power differen-
tials (Boehm & Flack, 2010; Jackman, 1994).
In sum, the promotion of ideologies that implicitly sub-
ordinate women may both effectively appease threats to
masculinity and maintain gender-based inequities. In addi-
tion, because men would be expected to promote such
ideologies to dominate and maintain power over women,
we would expect that the same mechanisms that inspire
aggression would inspire the promotion of ideological dom-
inance. Below we discuss anger as a core mediator and then
discuss ideological dominance.
Anger
We pre d i c t t h a t an ge r is a crit i c a l e mo t i o na l re sp on se to
masculinity threats. Two lines of logic converge to justify
this prediction. First, people feel angry when prevented
from realizing a goal, or a desired end-state (Izard, 1977;
Mascolo & Griffin, 1998; Scherer, 1993), and masculinity
is a desired end-state that men work hard to achieve and
maintain (Bosson & Vandello, 2011; Gilmore, 1990).
Importantly, because masculinity is a socially conferred sta-
tus that requires the acknowledgment of others to achieve
(Kimmel, 2009), men should experience anger when they
believe that others perceive them as lacking masculinity.
Thus, the public discomfort that men experience following
threats to masculinity should, in turn, lead to increased feel-
ings of anger. Second, anger is an emotion that motivates
corrective action to remove, recover from, or appease a
threat (e.g., Coan, Allen, & Harmon-Jones, 2001). Thus,
we predict that increased anger will inspire subsequent
ideological dominance.
Ideological Dominance
Ideological dominance is a way to assert power by promot-
ing ideologies that implicitly subordinate members of an
outgroup to one’s ingroup (see also Connell, 1995;
Jackman, 1994). Ideologies allow for implicit subordination
of members of certain groups in multiple ways. First, ideol-
ogies can legitimize the power of some groups over others.
For example, ideologies that purport the deficiencies of a
group (e.g., lower competence) justify another group’s con-
trol over members of the deficient group. Second, ideolo-
gies can implicitly subordinate certain groups by making
salient traditional power structures in which these groups
have been and/or currently are low power (e.g., symbols
like ‘‘Mammys’’). Finally, ideologies can implicitly
subordinate members of certain groups by reducing their
perceived agency (e.g., perceiving people more like objects,
with a reduced range of thoughts or behaviors and with less
capability of influence).
Importantly, by defining ideological dominance as a way
to assert power by promotion of ideologies that implicitly
(vs. explicitly) subordinate outgroup members to the self
or members of one’s ingroup, we are speaking from the
standpoint of a given man. As Jackman (1994) has noted,
from the standpoint of a woman subordinated by the promo-
tion of ideologies, the exertion of power and gender-based
inequities may be keenly felt. Importantly, however,
although ideological forms of dominance may be keenly
experienced to be forms of dominance, ideological domi-
nance is more likely to be tolerated by women than are open
acts of aggression. Women are aware of gender-based stereo-
types and the costs of upturning gender-stereotypic power
dynamics. Women know that challenging gender stereotypes
incurs backlash (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), so women will
be less likely to challenge ideological dominance, which
depends largely on gender stereotypes. Importantly, men
may use ideological dominance as a means of dominating,
so we expect ideological dominance tofollow from the same
emotions as other forms of dominance and aggression –
anger, as noted above.
We here explore three forms of ideological dominance
predicted to follow from threats to masculinity: (1) social
dominance, (2) benevolent sexism, and (3) sexualization
of women. Each is discussed below.
First, social dominance orientation (SDO) is a prefer-
ence for social hierarchy and the domination of lower-status
groups (e.g., ‘‘Some groups of people are simply inferior to
other groups’’; Pratto et al., 1994). Social dominance orien-
tation acts as a hierarchy-enhancing ideology because it
legitimizes the idea that some groups deserve more power
than others (Sidanius & Pratto, 2001). When expressed by
men in a context where gender is salient, it communicates
and promotes traditional power structures that give more
power to men than women. By endorsing SDO, men com-
municate ideologies that assert their group-based power and
thereby engage in ideological dominance.
Second, benevolent sexism (BS)reflectstheextentto
which people believe women deserve to be provided for
and protected (e.g., ‘‘Women should be cherished and pro-
tected by men’’; Glick & Fiske, 1996), which implies that
women cannot provide and care for themselves. When
men endorse benevolent sexism, they communicate that
men’s power over women is justified by women’s need
for men’s guidance and protection. Therefore, by endorsing
BS, men engage in ideological dominance. In contrast, hos-
tile sexism (HS) reflects a general antipathy toward women,
but also, as we argue, the idea that women fail to acknowl-
edge men’s legitimate power over them (‘‘Women seek to
gain power by getting control over men’’). Rather than jus-
tifying men’s power over women (like BS does), endorse-
ment of HS reflects a concern that men’s power over
women is tenuous or at risk. In the context of a masculinity
threat, men may avoid any suggestion that men, as a group,
are at risk of losing power. Additionally, HS implies power-
seeking qualities in women, such as the desire or capability
of tricking others into giving them power (e.g., ‘‘Many
women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring
policies that favor them over men, under the guise of asking
for ‘equality’’’), which may make women seem more
244 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
powerful. Therefore, HS may be a less likely form of
ideological dominance.
Third, the sexualization of women calls to mind tradi-
tional heterosexual courtship ideologies that associate
men with dominance and women with passivity and sub-
mission (Sanchez, Fetterolf, & Rudman, 2012). To sexual-
ize someone is to conceptualize that person in sexual terms
or in terms of their sexualized body parts, which can occur
in the context of feelings of attraction and sexual interest;
this differs from sexual aggression, which is tied to sexu-
ally-related forms of violence, harassment, or intimidation.
However, sexualized women may still be diminished in
power and agency, being perceived more like objects than
people (Cikara, Eberhardt, & Fiske, 2011; Gervais, Vescio,
& Allen, 2011b; Gervais, Vescio, Förster, Maass, & Suitner,
2012). Importantly, sexualization may also have tangible
costs for women’s power. For instance, when women are
sexualized, they underperform (Gervais, Vescio, & Allen,
2011a; Wiener, Gervais, Allen, & Marquez, 2013), which
may logically be expected to result in reductions in per-
ceived competence and the ability to influence others.
Therefore men’s sexualization of women reduces women’s
power and elevates mens based on a particular ideology,
and thus represents a form of ideological dominance.
As stated above, we expect masculinity threats to moti-
vate men to repair masculinity through ideological domi-
nance. This means that although endorsement of these
ideologies and engagement in ideology-related behaviors
varies across individuals, we expect masculinity threats to
increase the endorsement of ideologies within individuals.
Research supports the notion that ideologies are influenced
by situational factors (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway,
2003; Jost, Nosek, & Gosling, 2008). However, we do not
expect that an instance of masculinity threat will change
an ideologically egalitarian man into a man who endorses
gender hierarchy. Rather we expect masculinity threats to
lead to small increases in the endorsement and enactment
of these ideologies, which over repeated instances of threat
within individuals and across populations accumulates over
time (Abelson, 1985; Prentice & Miller, 1992).
Current Research
In three studies, we examine the links between masculinity
threats, and men’s affective and dominance-related
responses. Given the nature of our theory and hypotheses,
we focused the current research on the question of how
men respond to gender threats. While it is possible that
gender threats might lead both men and women to endorse
traditional gender-hierarchical ideologies (Rudman, Moss-
Racusin, Phelan, & Nauts, 2012), we expect this process to
unfold uniquely for men. For instance, although women
may worry about being labeled negatively for lacking femi-
ninity and fear backlash (e.g., Rudman & Fairchild, 2004),
it is not conceptualized as a categorical loss of a cherished
status (Maass et al., 2003; Vescio et al., 2010) as it would
be for men who lack masculinity (e.g., men can ‘‘lose man-
hood’’; Bosson & Vandello, 2011; Vandello et al., 2008;
Vescio et al., 2010). To the contrary, women who lack
femininity may even be perceived as higher status, being per-
ceived as more competent than traditional women (Fiske,
Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), but also cold and uppity, pushing
for status they do not deserve (Berdahl, 2007). Because of
these differences, we expected men (but not women) to
respond togender threats with attempts to ‘‘repair’’ tarnished
social identities (Vandello et al., 2008). Given the unique fea-
tures of masculinity and the related predictions we examine
here, all participants in the current studies were men.
Across three studies, we tested the hypothesis that men
would respond to masculinity threats with increased public
discomfort and, in turn, increased anger that predicts
greater ideological dominance over women. We made com-
parisons between masculinity-threatening and masculinity-
reinforcing conditions. In Studies 1a and 1b, using a
standard gender threat manipulation (e.g., Bosson, Weaver,
Caswell, & Burnaford, 2012), men completed a gender-
knowledge test (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004) and learned
they were either more like an average woman (threat
condition) or an average man (no-threat condition). Across
studies, threat was measured by men’s self-reported public
discomfort and anger. Ideological dominance was measured
using SDO in Study 1a and BS in Study 1b. In Study 2, we
examined whether men experienced threats to masculinity
when they were subordinate to a superior-performing
woman in a masculine domain. Men were led to believe
that they either outperformed a woman or were outper-
formed by a woman. Threat was assessed by examining
whether men who were outperformed by a woman exhibited
the same emotions as those in the threat conditions of
Studies 1a and 1b (i.e., increased public discomfort and
anger). Additionally, in Study 2, we tested whether men’s
anger led to increased ideological dominance via the
sexualization of a superior-performing woman.
Studies 1a and 1b
Method
Participants
Male undergraduates at an American, Midwestern university
completed the studies for course credit and either accessed
the study online (Study 1a, n= 194) or came to a computer
laboratory in groups of four to eight and were administered
the study by a male experimenter (Study 1b, n=96).
The men were young (Study 1a: 18–44 years, M=19.8,
SD = 3.4; Study 1b: 18–25 years, M=19.5, SD =1.4),
and described themselves as White (Study 1a: 70%; Study
1b: 70%), Asian (Study 1a: 11%; Study 1b: 14%), Multira-
cial (Study 1a: 6%; Study 1b: 1%), Black/African American
(Study 1a: 5%; Study 1b: 8%), Hispanic/Latino/a (Study 1a:
5%; Study 1b: 6%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
(Study 1a: 1%), Syrian American (Study 1b: 1%), and Not
Sure/Other (Study 1a: 2%). We omitted the responses of
men who expressed suspicion about the veracity of the feed-
back on the gender-knowledge test (Study 1a: n= 15; Study
1b: n= 3) or failed to follow instructions (Study 1a: n=2)
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 245
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
or to recall their gender test scores (i.e., failed the manipula-
tion check; Study 1b: n= 3). In total, we omitted 17 men in
Study 1a (10%), 11 of whom were in the threat condition,
and six men in Study 1b (6%), two of whom were in the
threat condition. This left 177 men in Study 1a and 90 men
in Study 1b; the race and age of omitted and included men
did not differ.
Procedure
Presumably as part of a personality study, men completed a
‘‘g e n d er-k n o w l e dge t e s t ,’’ c o m pris e d o f 60 mu l t i ple- c h oice
questions designed to test obscure, but face-valid, gender
knowledge so that performance is difficult to ascertain
(and false feedback is believable; Rudman & Fairchild,
2004). Half of the questions were about stereotypically fem-
inine content (e.g., You wear Manolo Blahniks on your
[head vs. feet]?), and half about stereotypically masculine
content (e.g., A dime is what kind of play in football [offen-
sive vs. defensive]?). After completing the gender test, men
were shown the ostensible average scores for women and
men at their university (Figure 1, Panel A). These average
scores were presented along a spectrum anchored with
‘‘ Fe m i n i n e S e l f - C on c e p t ’’ an d ‘‘ M a s c ul i n e S e lf - C o n c e pt ’’
on the left and right, respectively. Men then received their
own ostensible test scores along with a similar graphic
(Figure 1, Panel B). Men in the threat condition were told
they scored in the ‘‘37th percentile compared with other
men at their university’’ (Figure 1, Panel B, top box), lead-
ing them to believe they were more like the average univer-
sity woman than man. Men in the no-threat condition were
told they scored in the ‘‘83rd percentile compared with
other men at their university’’ (Figure 1, Panel B, bottom
box), leading them to believe they were more like the aver-
age university man than woman.
After receiving their scores, men reported public dis-
comfort, anger, and completed either the social dominance
orientation scale (Study 1a) or the ambivalent sexism
inventory (Study 1b). Men in Study 1b also reported their
anxiety and performed a word-completion task to assess
the accessibility of aggressive and threatened thoughts
(Vandello et al., 2008). However, because we found no
effects of threat condition on anxiety or thought accessibil-
ity, these variables will not be further mentioned. After
completing the dependent measures, men in both studies
were probed for suspicion and debriefed.
Dependent Measures
Public Discomfort
Men were asked to imagine their scores on the gender test
being made public. Using a 7-point scale (1 = not at all;
7=alot), participants answered the following question
for each of eight emotions: ‘‘When you think about your
name and score being published, how _____ do you feel?’
(anxious, nervous, defensive, depressed, calm, joyful,
happy, and confident). After reverse-scoring appropriate
items so that higher numbers indicated greater public dis-
comfort, we averaged across emotions to calculate a public
discomfort score (Study 1a, a= .84; Study 1b, a= .85).
Anger
Using 9-point scales (1 = not at all;9=extremely), men
reported the extent to which they felt 10 emotions ‘‘at this
moment.’’ Embedded within this list were four emotions
intended to tap anger (i.e., angry, frustrated, hostile, and
mad), which we averaged to calculate an anger score
(Study 1a, a= .92; Study 1b, a= .87).
Ideological Dominance
In Study 1a, men completed the eight ‘‘dominance’’ items
(see Jost & Thompson, 2000) of the social dominance
Figure 1. Men saw these graph-
ics after completing the gender-
knowledge test. First men saw
Panel A, which ostensibly rep-
resents the average scores of
women and men at their univer-
sity. Second, men saw one of the
boxes in Panel B, which sup-
posedly represented their own
test score. Men in the threat
condition saw the top box in
Panel B and were told that they
scored ‘‘in the 37th percentile
compared with other men at
their university.’’ Men in the
no-threat condition saw the bot-
tom box in Panel B and were
told that they scored ‘‘in the
83rd percentile compared with
other men at their university.’’
246 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
orientation scale (Pratto et al., 1994), and we averaged across
men’s responses to these items to create an SDO variable
(a= .90). In Study 1b, men completed the ambivalent sex-
ism inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996), and we averaged across
benevolent sexism items to create a BS variable (a=.67)
and hostile sexism items to create an HS variable (a=.83).
Results
In both studies, we tested whether masculinity threats
sequentially led to increased public discomfort, increased
anger, and greater ideological dominance using model 6
in the PROCESS macro for SPSS (Hayes, 2012).
We entered th r e a t c o n d i t i o n as t h e i n de pe n d e n t va r i a b l e ,
public discomfort and anger as mediators, and either
SDO (Study 1a), or BS or HS (Study 1b) as the dependent
variables and tested the indirect effects (using 5,000 boot-
strapped samples to create 95% confidence intervals), and
total and direct effects.
In support of predictions, as shown in Figure 2, men in
the threat condition reported greater public discomfort
(Study 1a: b= 0.25, se =0.08, t(176) = 3.05, p= .003;
Study 1b: b= 0.86, se =0.21,t(89) = 4.08, p< .001; see
Paths A), and this greater public discomfort predicted
greater anger (Study 1a: b= 0.81, se = 0.09,
t(176) = 8.71, p< .001; Study 1b: b= 0.48, se = 0.13,
t(89) = 3.78, p< .001; see Paths B). These findings are
consistent with the notion that masculinity threats made
men feel concerned about others’ perceptions of their
masculinity, and this concern predicted greater anger. Also
consistent with predictions, the anger that followed from
masculinity threats and public discomfort, subsequently
predicted greater ideological dominance over women:
SDO in Study 1a (b= 0.24, se = 0.06, t(176) = 3.90,
p< .001) and BS in Study 1b (b= 0.19, se = 0.07,
t(89) = 2.97, p= .004; see Paths C in Figure 2), but not
HS (b= 0.03, se = 0.09, t(89) = 0.36, p= .72). In fact,
masculinity threat predicted no effects on HS and, therefore,
will not be mentioned further.
Overall, masculinity threat led to small increases in
SDO in Study 1a (indirect effect = 0.05, bootstrapped
se = 0.02, CI [0.02, 0.11]) and BS in Study 1b (indirect
effect = 0.08, bootstrapped se =0.04,CI[0.03, 0.18]),as
evidenced by significant indirect effects. We calculated par-
tially standardized effects to determine effect size (as rec-
ommended by MacKinnon, 2008; Preacher & Kelley,
2011) and found that, compared with men in the no-threat
condition, men in the threat condition endorsed SDO 0.04
standard deviations more (95% CI [0.01, 0.09]) and BS
0.11 standard deviations more (95% CI [0.04, 0.25]).
Because the effect sizes are small, tests of total and direct
effects that have less statistical power (Hayes, 2012; Shrout
& Bolger, 2002; Zhao, Lynch, & Chen, 2010) did not reach
significance (total effects: ps>.78; direct effects repre-
sented in Paths F in Figure 2; Study 1a: b=!0.03,
p= .73; Study 1b: b=!0.01, p= .97). However, several
scholars note that significant indirect effects sufficiently
demonstrate the effect of the independent variable on the
dependent variable (i.e., that masculinity threat increases
SDO and BS), even without significant total effects
(Preacher & Hayes, 2008; Shrout & Bolger, 2002; Zhao
et al., 2010).
Because public discomfort and anger were measured in
close proximity immediately after the threat manipulation,
we also tested models reversing their order, and these mod-
els were not significant. Although masculinity threats led to
increased anger (Study 1a: b= 0.35, se = 0.12,
t(176) = 2.94, p= .004; Study 1b: b= 0.52, se = 0.27,
t(89) = 1.93, p= .06), which in turn predicted increased
public discomfort (Study 1a: b= 0.37, se = 0.04,
t(176) = 8.71, p< .001; Study 1b: b= 0.70, se = 0.20,
t(89) = 3.52, p< .001), public discomfort did not predict
SDO (b=!0.13, se =0.09, t(176) = !1.42, p= .16) or
BS (b=!0.11, se = 0.08, t(89) = 1.35, p= .18). The indi-
rect effects were not significant (Study 1a, CI [!0.05,
0.003]; Study 1b, CI [!0.07, 0.001]) nor were the total
and direct effects (Study 1a: ps > .72; Study 1b: ps > .97).
Discussion
The findings of both studies support the idea that men’s
power over women is a key aspect of men’s masculinity.
Studies 1a and 1b demonstrated that threats to masculinity
sequentially led to greater public discomfort, anger, and
ideological dominance. To the extent that men worried
about others’ perceptions of their masculinity failures, they
felt more anger. Anger, in turn, predicted greater endorse-
ment of ideologies that implicitly promote men’s power
Figure 2. Compared with men in the no-threat condition,
men in the threat condition reported more public discomfort,
in turn more anger, and subsequently were more likely to
endorse SDO (Study 1a, Panel A) and BS (Study 1b,
Panel B). These serially mediated indirect effects were
statistically significant. No other indirect effects or total and
direct effects were significant. Numbers are unstandardized
coefficients. **p<.01;***p<.001.
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 247
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
over women (i. e. , SDO and BS). Both SDO an d BS are
typically thought of as stable individual differences (Barreto
& Ellemers, 2005; Glick & Fiske, 1996; Jost & Kay, 2005),
each with long-term implications for people’s egalitarian
views and behaviors (Ho et al., 2012; Pratto et al., 1994).
However, the present work finds that situational masculinity
threats can affect men’s endorsement of these ideologies.
Specifically, it suggests that insofar as masculinity threats
lead to increases in men’s concerns about others’ percep-
tions of their masculinity, and that this is experienced as
frustrating, masculinity threats increase anger and subse-
quent endorsement of dominance ideologies.
The findings of Studies 1a and 1b expand research
examining men’s responses to masculinity threats. Whereas
most prior work links masculinity threats with reparative
aggression and dominant behaviors (e.g.,Bosson & Vandello,
2011; Cohen et al., 1996), men in the present studies
appeared to appease masculinity threats by endorsing the
legitimacy of men’s societal power over other groups,
particularly women. Consistent with these findings, Willer,
Rogalin, Conlon, and Wojnowicz (2013) found that men
who were told they had feminine gender identities more
highly endorsed social dominance. The present research
shows that public discomfort and anger mediate this effect
and situates this effect in a larger theoretical framework of
reparative ideological dominance. Our theory suggests that
ideological dominance is a form of dominance that, because
it is more subtle, is a more socially appropriate manner of
effectively exerting power.
In Study 2, we sought to further test the link between mas-
culinity and power over women. As noted, to be a good man,
one must be powerful, highstatus, dominant, and tough, par-
ticularly relative to women. In achievement domains,
superior-performing people are more powerful because they
have expert power (e.g., French & Raven, 1959). As a result,
men who are outperformed by a woman in a masculine
domain are subordinate to the woman, which should threaten
masculinity. Additionally, given the findings in Studies 1a
and 1b, if being subordinate to a woman threatens masculin-
ity, then this should predict subsequent ideological domi-
nance. Specifically, when subordinate to a superior-
performing woman in a masculine domain, men should feel
public discomfort and then anger that predicts greater ideo-
logicaldominance. In Study 2, we consider sexualization as a
form of ideological dominance. The sexualization of a
threatening woman in a given context is a form of ideological
dominance that both psychologically diminishes women to
unthreatening objects (e.g., Gervais et al., 2012) and under-
mines women’s actual performance (e.g., Gervais & Vescio,
2012; Gervais et al., 2011). Study 2 was designed to test
whether men (a) experience threats to masculinity when out-
performed by a woman in a masculine domain and (b) subse-
quently sexualize that woman.
Study 2
Study 2 further examines the link between masculinity and
men’s power over women by considering two related
questions: First, is masculinity threatened when men’s
power is challenged by a superior-performing woman in a
masculine domain, and second, does this threat inspire
men’s ideological dominance over that threatening woman?
If being outperformed by a woman in a masculine domain
threatens masculinity, then the pattern of emotional
responses that emerges should parallel those of other threats
to masculinity. Specifically, considering the findings of
Studies 1a and 1b, if being outperformed by a woman in
a masculine domain threatens masculinity, then men should
experience subsequent feelings of public discomfort and, in
turn, anger, and this anger should predict ideological
dominance.
To test these ideas, we created a stereotypically mascu-
line domain and led men to believe that they were interact-
ing with a female teammate via computer. Following an
ostensible test of skills, the men were led to believe that
they either outperformed the woman (no-threat condition)
or the woman outperformed them (threat condition).
For men, outperforming a woman in a masculine domain
should reinforce traditional power roles because men are
stereotypically expected to perform better and be more
powerful, higher status, and dominant than women in mas-
culine domains. By contrast, being outperformed by a
woman in a masculine domain should reverse these tradi-
tional power roles, subordinating the man to the superior-
performing woman and threatening the man’s masculinity.
Therefore, to test whether a powerful woman threatens
men’s masculinity, we compare the responses of men in
the threat condition with those in the no-threat condition
to see if outperformed men report more public discomfort,
and in turn, more anger. Additionally, we examined whether
this greater anger predicted greater ideological dominance
through increased sexualization of the threatening
woman.
Method
Participants
Participants were 96 male undergraduates at an American,
Midwestern university who completed the study for course
credit. Participants were 18–23 (M= 19.52, SD = 1.29),
and described themselves as White (70%), Asian (15%),
Black/African American (7%), Hispanic/Latino (7%), and
biracial (1%). We omitted men who failed to recall their test
score (i.e., failed the manipulation check; n= 1) or
expressed suspicion about the cover story or that the study
was related to gender (n=6).Intotal, weomitted seven
men (7%), five of whom were in the threat condition, leav-
ing 89 men in the analyses.
Procedure
Men and women arrived to the laboratory in groups of four
to eight. Women completed an unrelated study but were
present in the same experimental session to enhance the
believability of the cover story. Although the ratio of men
248 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
to women varied across sessions, findings remained the same
when the ratio of men to women was entered as a covariate.
Participants sat at individual computers, which they believed
they would use to interact with others in the room. While
reporting demographic information, participants created an
experimental name, or a ‘‘user id’’ to be used to identify them
in the ostensible computer interactions.
Participants were told they were participating in a study
of who succeeds in ‘‘action-oriented and competitive envi-
ronments’’ and that they would be partnered with another
participant in the room, with whom they would interact over
computers. The kind of people who excel in action-oriented
and competitive environments were described as those who
emerge as leaders in academic and professional domains.
They were also described as people who possess desirable
(but masculine, as confirmed by pilot testing
1
)attributes
(i.e., ‘‘leader-like, rational problem solvers, straight-forward
communicators, and those who dominantly promote
ideas’’).
Participants then completed an initial test of skills that
they were led to believe predicted success in action-oriented
and competitive environments. Participants were then given
10 min to complete ten Scholastic Aptitude Test questions
(for method, see Vescio, Gervais, Snyder, & Hoover, 2005).
After completing the skills test, men learned that their
teammate was a woman in the room. In the threat condition,
men learned that they were outperformed by their female
teammate: ‘‘Jessica’ scored 9/10 and the men scored
6/10. In the no-threat condition,menoutperformedtheir
female teammate: ‘‘Jessica’scored 6/10 and the men scored
9/10.
Men then completed measures of public discomfort,
anger, and ideological dominance. Men also reported their
anxiety and completed the threat and aggression word-
completion tasks used in Study 1b. As in Study 1b, anxiety
and threatened thoughts did not vary as a function of threat
condition (all Fs < 0.04, all ps > .84), and analysis of
aggressive thoughts also failed to produce theoretically
relevant findings; therefore, these variables will not be
mentioned further.
2
Men were then asked to enter their and Jessica’s test
scores, which served as both a reminder of their relative
scores and as a manipulation check. Next, men were
assigned to choose avatars to represent their teammate
and themselves to aid team communication throughout
the remainder of the experimental session. These avatars
would supposedly appear beside each of their user ids in
subsequent computer interactions. As described below, the
female avatars were identical except for their clothing
(Figure 3). After choosing the avatars, men then completed
the ambivalent sexism inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996),
were probed for suspicion, and debriefed.
Figure 3. These are the avatars used in the sexualization measure. They were pilot tested with a separate sample of
students and range from the most skin exposure (two avatars on the upper left) to least (two avatars on the lower right).
Men saw full-length pictures of the avatars’ outfits, which were all wearing the same jeans, however for the purpose of
presentation in this paper, this graphic was magnified to focus on the details of the avatars’ tops.
1
A separate sample of 75 men read the description about ‘‘action-oriented and competitive environments’’ and, using 7-point scales (‘‘men
only’’ to ‘‘women only’’), indicated the proportion of men and women who would ‘‘be interested in,’’ ‘‘most likely to work in,’’ ‘‘most
likely to perform well,’’ and ‘‘be promoted in’’ such domains. We averaged across items (a= .74) and performed a one-sample t-test.
Participants perceived the description to be more masculine, as evidenced by a significant difference from the scale midpoint,
t(74) = 11.76, p< .001 (M= 3.10).
2
Interestingly, men completed more aggressive words in the no-threat condition (M= 21.43%, SD = 16.50%) than in the threat condition
(M= 15.16%, SD = 13.49%), F(1, 87) = 3.89, p= .052, g
2
p
= 0.04). Perhaps men who outperformed their partner felt responsibility for
carrying the team, inspiring aggressive thoughts.
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 249
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Dependent Measures
Public Discomfort
Measured the same way as in Studies 1a and 1b (a= .83).
Anger
Measured the same way as in Studies 1a and 1b (a= .83).
Ideological Dominance
To assess ideological dominance through the sexualization,
men chose an avatar to represent Jessica in her communica-
tion via computer. The 12 avatars they chose from were
identical except that each avatar had a different shirt that
varied in skin exposure (see Figure 3). Pilot testing con-
firmed that coats and jackets were the least revealing, then
long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts, tank tops, camisoles,
and bikini tops (coded 0 through 5, respectively). The more
revealing the shirt, the greater men’s sexualization of the
female teammate and ideological dominance. (Men’s ava-
tars were not pilot tested or analyzed). Additionally, as in
Studies 1a and 1b, men completed the ambivalent sexism
inventory and we created variables for BS (a= .68) and
HS (a= .81).
Results
If being subordinate to a superior-performing woman
threatens masculinity, then men should feel more public
discomfort and in turn more anger in the threat condition
than in the no-threat condition. In addition, as in Studies
1a and 1b, this increased anger should inspire more ideolog-
ical dominance, which in this study was measured as
sexualization. To examine these predictions, as in Studies
1a and 1b, we used model 6 in PROCESS for SPSS (Hayes,
2012); threat condition was entered as an independent var-
iable, public discomfort and anger as mediators, and sexu-
alization, BS, and HS were treated as separate dependent
variables. Again, we tested the indirect effects (using
5,000 bootstrapped samples to create 95% confidence inter-
vals), as well as the total and direct effects.
These analyses revealed two significant indirect effects,
which indicated that the effects of threat and public discom-
fort on the sexualization of a female teammate varied
depending on whether greater public discomfort led to
anger. These effects are shown in Figure 4.
First, consistent with predictions, men in the threat con-
dition reported more public discomfort (b= 0.67,
se = 0.21, t(88) = 3.18, p= .002; see Path A), which in
turn predicted more anger (b= 0.53, se = 0.12,
t(88) = 4.47, p< .001; see Path B). These findings support
the notion that being subordinate to a superior-performing
woman in a masculine domain threatens masculinity. Sub-
sequently, greater anger predicted more sexualization of
the woman (b= 0.61, se =0.15, t(88) = 3.94, p< .001;
see Path C). Men who were threatened by being subordinate
to a superior-performing woman sexualized her more, as
evidenced by a significant indirect effect (indirect
effect = 0.22, bootstrapped se = 0.10, CI [0.08, 0.49]). Spe-
cifically, men in the threat condition sexualized their female
teammate 0.13 standard deviations more than did men in
the no-threat condition (95% CI [0.05, 0.27]), and as in
Studies 1a and 1b, this effect was small, resulting in nonsig-
nificant total and direct effects (both ts<!0.97, ps>.33).
Second, unlike the findings of Studies 1a and 1b (see
Figure 4), the path from threat condition to public
discomfort (Path A), and public discomfort to sexualization
(Path E) was significant and in the opposite direction (indi-
rect effect = !0.28, bootstrapped se = 0.16, CI [!0.73,
!0.06]).To the degree that threatened men felt more
public discomfort, but not more anger, they sexualized
their female teammate less (b=!0.42, se = 0.19,
t(88) = !2.22, p= .03; Path E). Specifically, men in the
threat condition sexualized the woman 0.17 standard devia-
tions less than men in the no-threat condition (CI [!0.41,
!0.03]).
In sum, the two paths depicted in Figure 4 indicate that
to the extent that men’s concern about others’ perceptions
of them led to greater anger, men sexualized the woman
more. However, when men’s concern about others’ percep-
tions of them did not lead to anger, men sexualized the
woman less.
As in Studies 1a and 1b, we also tested a model that
reversed the order of anger and public discomfort, and it
was not significant (indirect effects confidence intervals
included 0 and total and direct effects ps > .33).
Finally, in contrast with the findings of Study 1b, threat
condition did not produce a significant indirect effect on
BS or HS (confidence intervals included 0). As noted
above, however, sexualization was measured before BS and
Figure 4. Threat condition had competing indirect effects
on sexualization such that the effects of threat and public
discomfort on the sexualization of a female teammate
varied as a function of whether or not public discomfort
led to anger. Men in the threat condition chose more
sexualized avatars to the extent that they reported more
public discomfort and this, in turn, increased anger (Path
A, B, C). By contrast, to the degree that men in the threat
condition felt more public discomfort, but not more anger,
they chose less sexualized avatars (Path A, E). No other
indirect, total, or direct effects were significant. Numbers
are unstandardized coefficients. *p< .05; **p< .01;
***p< .001.
250 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
if sexualization sufficiently repairs threats to masculinity,
then there may be no need to ideologically dominate
through greater endorsement of BS.
Discussion
Study 2 replicates and extends the findings of Studies 1a
and 1b, further supporting the notion that men’s power over
women is a key aspect of masculinity. Being subordinate to
a woman in a masculine domain seems to have threatened
men’s masculinity given that these men responded like
those who experienced masculinity threats in Studies 1a
and 1b; men who were outperformed by a woman in a mas-
culine domain reported more public discomfort and, in turn,
more anger. Additionally, like men in Studies 1a and 1b,
increases in anger predicted men’s greater ideological dom-
inance in the form of sexualization of the threatening
woman. Sexualization is a behavior that ideologically dom-
inates women because it makes salient heterosexual
romance ideologies in which men dominate women
(Sanchez et al., 2012). Sexualization also results in the per-
ception of women as objects (Gervais et al., 2011b, 2012)
who lack agency (Cikara et al., 2011). Finally, sexualization
is particularly effective as a form of ideological dominance
because it undermines women’s performance (Gervais
et al., 2011) and therefore logically would reduce women’s
actual ability to exert influence and power.
The findings of Study 2 also importantly differed from
the findings of Studies 1a and 1b. Whether or not masculin-
ity threat and public discomfort lead to more or less ideo-
logical dominance depended on whether threatened men
experienced anger. To the extent that men’s public discom-
fort predicted anger, men ideologically dominated their
superior-performing female teammate more; however, if
public discomfort did not predict anger, men ideologically
dominated their superior-performing female teammate less.
This further supports our prediction that anger is a critical
mediator of masculinity threat and responses that attempt
to repair masculinity. Masculinity threat leads to reparative
behaviors only insofar as it increases anger. However, it is
not yet clear to us why, without anger, masculinity threat
leads to less ideological dominance.
This brings us to two critical questions: In what situa-
tions and among what kind of men does the public discom-
fort of being subordinate to a superior-performing woman
turn to anger? Future research is needed to identify individ-
ual differences and contextual factors that moderate when
men’s concerns about others’ perceptions of them lead to
anger and, in turn, ideological dominance. Future research
should also examine whether the moderation of the link
between public discomfort and anger occurs only when sex-
ualization of women is the outcome, or for other forms of
ideological dominance. Although the findings of Study 2
raise several critical questions, the findings importantly
suggest anger as a critical mediator of men’s attempts to
repair their masculinity through the sexualization of poten-
tially threatening women.
General Discussion
Three studies examined the idea that men’s power over
women is a key aspect of men’s masculinity. Across studies,
we found that men whose masculinity was threatened were
more concerned with how people would perceive them and
this led to greater anger, which in turn increased their
ideological dominance over women. Insofar as masculinity
threats increased public discomfort and anger, they
increased the likelihood that men endorsed or acted
upon ideologies that implicitly subordinate women. Addi-
tionally, ideological dominance followed from anger,
suggesting that ideological dominance is a form of aggres-
sion that appeases threats to masculinity. By asserting
power over women, men may feel more masculine, presum-
ably because being more powerful than women is a key
aspect of being a ‘‘good’’ man.
In Study 2, we also found that superior-performing
women threaten masculinity and become targets of men’s
ideological dominance. Consistent with the notion that
superior-performing women threaten masculinity, men
who were outperformed by a woman in a stereotypically
masculine domain responded in the same ways as men
who were told they were like a woman. As a consequence,
superior-performing women may encounter ideological
dominance from men, which complements prior work
suggesting that well-performing and agentic women are
sexually harrassed in masculine domains (e.g., Berdahl,
2007). Taken together, the findings show that masculinity
can be threatened in multiple ways and that being like a
woman or performing worse than a woman may inspire
the promotion of various forms of ideological dominance.
Importantly, past research suggests that men’s ideologi-
cal dominance may subordinate women and maintain exist-
ing gender-based power differences through a variety of
mechanisms. As noted, women may be more likely to toler-
ate power differentials when presented with ideologies that
reinforce men’s power over women than when presented
with open acts of hostility (Jackman, 1994). Additionally,
these ideologies may disempower women, even if women
do not accept them. For example, the communication of
ideologies that subordinate and devalue women may reduce
womens feelings that they can succeed (Vescio et al.,
2005), feelings of belonging (Swim, Hyers, Cohen, &
Ferguson, 2001) and participation in stereotypically mascu-
line achievement domains (Cheryan, Plaut, Davies, &
Steele, 2009). Similarly, subtle sexism and the sexualization
of women undermines women’s performance (e.g., Gervais
et al., 2011; Gervais & Vescio, 2012; Vescio et al., 2005;
Vescio, Snyder, & Butz, 2003; Woodzicka & LaFrance,
2005), which reduces their access to resources, opportuni-
ties, and eventual power and status.
In addition to maintaining the status quo, ideological
dominance is a relatively subtle form of dominance, making
it difficult to detect and resist. Previous research suggests
that aggression and dominance are the most effective ways
to repair masculinity. However, in many everyday contexts,
such physical displays may be socially inappropriate.
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 251
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
By contrast, ideological dominance provides a socially
appropriate, nonphysical means of asserting power and
repairing masculinity. Second, ideological dominance may
not be seen as aggression to men who use it. Men who
endorse SDO endorse the belief that some groups have a
legitimate basis for having power over others, and may gen-
uinely think that they are describing reality. Similarly, men
who endorse benevolent sexism may think they are benefit-
ing women by expressing beliefs that women deserve to be
‘cherished,’’ ‘‘protected,’ and ‘‘put on a pedestal.’ Finally,
by sexualizing women, men may sincerely think that they
are complimenting a woman even as they are functionally
subordinating her.
The current research points to several possible future
research directions. First, as noted, this research only tests
men. It is also important to consider how gender threats
unfold for women and whether threats in women might also
reinforce gender inequities. Second, research is needed to
illuminate the causal links between masculinity threats
and consequences for women. This research demonstrates
that masculinity threats lead to ideological dominance. Past
research suggests that ideological dominance has conse-
quences for women, but this has yet to be tested directly.
Third, the psychological processes related to ideological
dominance require additional research. Future work is
needed to identify for what men and in what situations
superior-performing women threaten masculinity and lead
to ideological dominance. In addition, given that competent
women sometimes threaten masculinity, attention to inter-
ventions that address how men’s experiences of threat can
be appeased is necessary.
The present research expands theory on masculinity by
suggesting that the nature of masculinity and stereotypic
pressure on men can promote thoughts and behaviors that
have meaningful potential consequences for women. From
this work, we know that when studying gender equity, it
is important to study men and masculinity, and to engage
men in these issues.
Acknowledgments
This material is based upon work supported by a National
Science Foundation graduate research fellowship awarded
to Julia L. Dahl, under Grant No. DGE1255832. Any opin-
ions, findings, and conclusions or recommendation
expressed in this material are those of the authors and do
not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science
Foundation.
References
Abelson, R. P. (1985). A variance explanation paradox: When a
little is a lot. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 129–133.
Babl, J. D. (1979). Compensatory masculine responding as a
function of sex role. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 47, 252–257.
Barreto, M., & Ellemers, N. (2005). The burden of benevolent
sexism: How it contributes to the maintenance of gender
inequalities. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35,
633–642. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.270
Berdahl, J. L. (2007). The sexual harassment of uppity women.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 425–437.
Boehm, C., & Flack, J. C. (2010). The emergence of simple and
complex power structures through social niche construction.
In A. G. Guinote & T. K. Vescio (Eds.), The Social Psychology
of Power (pp. 46–86). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Bosson, J. K., Prewitt-Freilino, J. L., & Taylor, J. N. (2005).
Role rigidity: A problem of identity misclassification?
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 552.
Bosson, J. K., & Vandello, J. A. (2011). Precarious manhood
and its links to action and aggression. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 20, 82–86.
Bosson, J. K., Vandello, J. A., Burnaford, R. M., Weaver, J. R.,
& Wasti, S. A. (2009). Precarious manhood and displays of
physical aggression. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 35, 623–634.
Bosson, J. K., Weaver, J. R., Caswell, T. A., & Burnaford, R. M.
(2012). Gender threats and men’s antigay behaviors: Theharmful
effects of asserting heterosexuality. Group Processes &
Intergroup Relations, 15,471486.doi:1368430211432893
Brannon, R. (1976). The male sex role: Our culture’s blueprint
for manhood, what it’s done for us lately. In D. David &
R. Brannon (Eds.), The fourty-nine percent majority: The
male sex role (pp. 1–49). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Cheryan, S., Plaut, V. C., Davies, P. G., & Steele, C. M. (2009).
Ambient belonging: How stereotypical cues impact gender
participation in computer science. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 97, 1045–1060. doi: 10.1037/a0016239
Cikara, M., Eberhardt, J. L., & Fiske, S. T. (2011). From agents to
objects: Sexist attitudes and neural responses to sexualized
targets. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 540–551.
Coan, J. A., Allen, J. J. B., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2001).
Voluntary facial expression and hemispheric asymmetry
over the frontal cortex. Psychophysiology, 38, 912–925.
Cohen, D., Nisbett, R. E., Bowdle, B. F., & Schwarz, N. (1996).
Insult, aggression, and the southern culture of honor: An
‘experimental ethnography’’. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 70, 945–960.
Connell,R. W. (1995). Masculinities.Cambridge,UK:PolityPress.
Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-
role interpretation. UK Psychology Press: Hove, UK.
Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory of
prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109,
573–598.
Fischer, A. R., & Good, G. E. (1998). New directions for the
study of gender role attitudes. Psychology of Women
Quarterly, 22, 371–384.
Fischer, A. R., Tokar, D. M., Good, G. E., & Snell, A. F. (1998).
More on the structure of male role norms. Psychology of
Women Quarterly, 22, 135–155.
Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model
of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and
warmth respectively follow from perceived status and
competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
82, 878–902.
Foucault, M. (1976). La volonté de savoir (Vol. 1). Paris, France:
Gallimard.
French, J., & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power. In
D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in Social Power (pp. 150–167).
Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.
Gervais, S. J., & Vescio, T. K. (2012). The effect of patronizing
behavior and control on men and women’s performance in
stereotypically masculine domains. Sex Roles, 66, 479–491.
Gervais, S. J., Vescio, T. K., & Allen, J. (2011a). When what
you see is what you get: The consequences of the
objectifying gaze for women and men. Psychology of
Women Quarterly, 35, 5–17.
252 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Gervais, S. J., Vescio, T. K., & Allen, J. (2011b). When are
people interchangeable sexual objects? The effect of gender
and body type on sexual fungibility. The British Journal of
Social Psychology, 51, 499–513.
Gervais, S. J., Vescio, T. K., Förster, J., Maass, A., & Suitner, C.
(2012). Seeing women as objects: The sexual body part
recognition bias. European Journal of Social Psychology,
42, 743–753.
Gilmore, D. D. (1990). Manhood in the making: Cultural concepts
of masculinity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism
inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512.
doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.491
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1999). Sexism and other ‘‘isms’’:
Independence, status, and the ambivalent content of stereo-
types. In W. B. Swann, J. H. Langlois, & L. A. Gilbert (Eds.),
Sexism and stereotypes in modern society: The gender science
of Janet Taylor Spence (pp. 193–221). Washington, DC: APA.
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2001). An ambivalent alliance: Hostile
and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for
gender inequality. American Psychologist, 56, 109–118.
Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool
for observed variable mediation, moderation, and condi-
tional process modeling. [White paper]. Retrieved from
http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf
Ho, A. K., Sidanius,J., Pratto, F., Levin, S., Thomsen, L., Kteily, N.,
& Sheehy-Skeffington, J. (2012). Social dominance
orientation: Revisiting the structure and function of a variable
predicting social and political attitudes. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 38, 583–606. doi: 10.1177/
0146167211432765
Izard, C. E. (1977). Human emotions (Vol. 17). New York, NY:
Plenum Press.
Jackman, M. R. (1994). The velvet glove: Paternalism and
conflict in gender, class, and race relations. Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press.
Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in
system-justification and the production of false conscious-
ness. The British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27.
Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. J.
(2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition.
Psychological Bulletin, 129, 339–375.
Jost, J. T., & Kay, A. C. (2005). Exposure to benevolent sexism
and complementary gender stereotypes: Consequences for
specific and diffuse forms of system justification. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 498–509.
doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.3.498
Jost, J. T., Nosek, B. A., & Gosling, S. D. (2008). Ideology: Its
resurgence in social, personality, and political psychology.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 126–136.
Jost, J. T., & Thompson, E. P. (2000). Group-based dominance
and opposition to equality as independent predictors of self-
esteem, ethnocentrism, and social policy attitudes among
African Americans and European Americans. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 209–232.
Kimmel, M. S. (2009). Guyland. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Levant, R. F., Richmond, K., Majors, R. G., Inclan, J. E.,
Rossello, J. M., Heesacker, M., ... Sellers, A. (2003).
A multicultural investigation of masculinity ideology and
alexithymia. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4, 91–99.
Maass, A., Cadinu, M., Guarnieri, G., & Grasselli, A. (2003).
Sexual harassment under social identity threat: The com-
puter harassment paradigm. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 85, 853–870.
MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation
analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Mascolo, M. F., & Griffin, S. E. (1998). What develops in
emotional development? New York, NY: Plenum Press.
Pascoe, C. J. (2011). Dude, you’re a fag: Masculinity and
sexuality in high school, with a new preface. Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press.
Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., Stallworth, L. M., & Malle, B. F. (1994).
Social dominance orientation: A personality variable pre-
dicting social and political attitudes. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 67, 741–763. doi: 10.1037/0022-
3514.67.4.741
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Contemporary
approaches to assessing mediation in communication
research. In The Sage sourcebook of advanced data analysis
methods for communication research (pp. 13–54). Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage.
Preacher, K. J., & Kelley, K. (2011). Effect size measures for
mediation models: Quantitative strategies for communicat-
ing indirect effects. Psychological Methods, 16, 93–115.
Prentice, D. A., & Miller, D. T. (1992). When small effects are
impressive. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 160–164.
Raven, B. H., Schwarzwald, J., & Koslowsky, M. (1998).
Conceptualizing and measuring a power/interaction model
of interpersonal influence. Journal of Applied Social Psy-
chology, 28, 307–332.
Rudman, L. A., & Fairchild, K. (2004). Reactions to counter-
stereotypic behavior: The role of backlash in cultural
stereotype maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 87, 157–176.
Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2008). The social psychology of
gender: How power and intimacy shape gender relations.
New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Nauts, S.
(2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the
gender hierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 165–179.
Sanchez, D. T., Fetterolf, J. C., & Rudman, L. A. (2012). Eroticiz-
ing inequality in the United States: The consequences and
determinants of traditional gender role adherence in intimate
relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 49, 168–183.
Scherer, K. R. (1993). Studying the emotion-antecedent apprai-
sal process: An expert system approach. Cognition &
Emotion, 7, 325–355.
Schmitt, M. T., & Branscombe, N. R. (2001). The good, the bad,
and the manly: Threats to one’s prototypicality and evalu-
ations of fellow in-group members. Journal of Experimental
Social Psychology, 37, 510–517.
Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental
and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recom-
mendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445.
Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (2001). Social dominance: An
intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression.
Cambridge University Press.
Swim, J. K., Hyers, L. L., Cohen, L. L., & Ferguson, M. J.
(2001). Everyday sexism: Evidence for its incidence, nature,
and psychological impact from three daily diary studies.
Journal of Social Issues, 57, 31–53. doi: 10.1111/0022-
4537.00200
Thompson, E. H., & Pleck, J. H. (1986). The structure of male
role norms. American Behavioral Scientist, 29, 531–543.
doi: 10.1177/000276486029005003
Vandello, J. A., Bosson, J. K., Cohen, D., Burnaford, R. M., &
Weaver, J. R. (2008). Precarious manhood. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1325–1339.
Vescio, T. K., Gervais, S. J., Snyder, M., & Hoover, A. (2005).
Power and the creation of patronizing environments: The
stereotype-based behaviors of the powerful and their effects
on female performance in masculine domains. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 658–672.
Vescio, T. K., Schlenker, K. A., & Lenes, J. G. (2010). Power and
sexism. In The social psychology of power (pp. 363–380).
New York, NY: Guilford Press.
J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women 253
!2015 Hogrefe Publishing Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Vescio, T. K., Snyder, M., & Butz, D. A. (2003). Power in
stereotypically masculine domains: A social influence
strategy X stereotype match model. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 85, 1062–1078.
Wiener, R. L., Gervais, S. J., Allen, J., & Marquez, A. (2013).
Eye of the beholder: Effects of perspective and sexual
objectification on harassment judgments. Psychology, Public
Policy, and Law, 19, 206–221.
Willer, R., Rogalin, C. L., Conlon, B., & Wojnowicz, M. T.
(2013). Overdoing gender A test of the masculine overcom-
pensation thesis. American Journal of Sociology, 118,
980–1022.
Woodzicka, J. A., & LaFrance, M. (2005). The effects of subtle
sexual harassment on women’s performance in a job
interview. Sex Roles, 53, 67–77. doi: 10.1007/s11199-005-
4279-4
Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron
and Kenny: Myths and truths about mediation analysis.
Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 197–206.
Received March 16, 2015
Revision received May 14, 2015
Accepted June 16, 2015
Published online August 21, 2015
Theresa Vescio
Department of Psychology
Penn State University
519 Moore Bldg.
University Park, PA 16802
USA
Tel. +1 814 863-1714
Fax +1 814 863-7002
E-mail tkv1@psu.edu
254 J. Dahl et al.: Masculinity and Power Over Women
Social Psychology 2015; Vol. 46(4):242–254 !2015 Hogrefe Publishing
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Late in the 2016 U.S. Presidential primary, Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for playing the “woman's card.” Theories of system justification suggest that attitudes about gender, particularly endorsement of hostile and benevolent sexism, likely shaped reactions to this campaign attack. Using a set of two studies, we find that hostile sexists exposed to the attack showed increased support for Trump and decreased support for Clinton. Benevolent sexists, however, reacted to Trump's statements with increased support for Clinton, consistent with benevolent sexism's focus on protecting women (Study 1). We further found that the woman card attack produced distinct emotional reactions among those with low and high levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. The attack also increased political participation among hostile sexists (Study 2). Our results offer new insights into the role of sexism in the 2016 presidential contest and further the discipline's understanding of the gendered dimension of negative campaigning.
  • Article
    This study investigated how conformity to hegemonic masculinity norms affects men’s and women’s food consumption and whether such influence was contextually modulated. A total of 519 individuals (65% women; M = 44 years old) participated in a 2 (gender salience: low vs high) × 2 (participants’ sex: male vs female) quasi-experimental between-subjects design, completing the Conformity to Masculinity Norms Inventory (Portuguese version) and reporting their past week’s food consumption. Gender salience moderated the relation between men’s conformity to masculinity norms and food consumption; sex-related differences in food consumption were partially mediated by conformity to masculinity norms. Implications for food consumption interventions are discussed.
  • Article
    The Dual Process Model (DPM) explains prejudice and political conservatism as functions of Right‐Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and a Social Dominance Orientation (SDO; Duckitt, 2001). From an evolutionary perspective, such orientations may represent specific adaptations to coalitional competition in the ancestral environment (Sinn & Hayes, 2016). Supporting this view, recent research suggests the two orientations represent divergent strategies, with RWA pursuing an honest‐cooperator strategy and SDO a deceptive, cooperation‐mimicking strategy (Heylen & Pauwels, 2015). In two studies, we examine additional evidence for an adaptationist interpretation of DPM. Utilizing life history theory, Study 1 finds that RWA reflects the predicted “slow” strategy by endorsing planning and control, investment in family relationships, altruism, and religiosity. In contrast, SDO reflects a “fast” strategy by devaluing planning and control, secure relationships, and altruism. Utilizing rank management theory, Study 2 finds that RWA reflects a prosocial orientation, endorsing coalition building and social networking while rejecting deception and manipulation. In contrast, SDO reflects an exploitive orientation, rejecting coalition building and networking but endorsing ruthless self‐advancement and deceptive tactics. These findings support an adaptationist revision of RWA to recognize its prosocial, honest‐cooperator dimension and of SDO to recognize proself, “dark” tactics seeking power within groups.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This research examined how leader illegitimacy affects leaders’ and subordinates’ responses to relinquishing power decisions. The processes underlying responses to leader illegitimacy and relinquishing power were also examined. Across four studies, participants were placed in leader roles (Studies 1a/1b) or subordinate roles (Studies 2a/2b) in an online competition. In Studies 1a/1b, participants assigned a leadership role learned, via a leadership skills test, that their leadership was illegitimate or legitimate. By contrast, in Studies 2a/2b, participants assigned a subordinate role were confronted with either an illegitimate leader who retained their power after performing poorly or a legitimate leader who received the leader role after a poor-performing leader had relinquished their power. Results demonstrated that leaders, who felt they did not belong in their leadership role, relinquished more power when their leadership was illegitimate (vs. legitimate) and subordinates, who felt less in control and greater anger, supported illegitimate (vs. legitimate) leaders less.
  • Chapter
    Full-text available
    What does it mean to be emotional? And how might perceptions of emotionality be gendered? In this chapter, we discuss the importance of considering systems of power when conducting research on gender and emotion. We argue that two themes, namely intersectionality of social identities and hierarchies of power and status, provide the way forward for research on gender and emotion. To begin, we take a step back and summarize where investigation of the links between gender and emotion has brought us so far. Then, we discuss the research potential of intersectionality and power and offer suggestions for avenues of future study. Last, we provide concluding thoughts on other promising research strategies and methods that could advance the study of gender and emotion.
  • Article
    Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) explains liberal-conservative differences as arising from different moral intuitions, with liberals endorsing “individualizing” foundations (Harm and Fairness) and conservatives also endorsing “binding” foundations (Authority, Respect, and Purity). We argue these labels misconstrue ideological differences and propose Evolutionary-Coalitional Theory (ECT) as an alternative, explaining how competitive dynamics in the ancestral social environment could produce the observed ideological differences. We test ECT against MFT across three studies. Study 1 shows the so-called “binding” orientation entails the threat-sensitivity and outgroup antagonism predicted by ECT; that is, an authoritarian motive. Similarly, Study 2 shows the so-called “individualizing” orientation is better described as a universalizing motive, one reflecting a broader set of moral commitments (e.g., to nature) and a broader sociality than the egocentrism implied by MFT. Study 3 provides a factor analysis reducing “binding” to authoritarianism and “individualizing” to universalism, with the latter loading against social dominance orientation (SDO). A hierarchical regression then provides additional evidence for ECT, showing this dominating motive (SDO) accounts for variance in conservatism that MFT leaves unexplained. Collectively, these three studies suggest that ECT offers a more accurate and precise explanation of the key psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We examined male power-roles as a potential moderator of gender bias in hiring decisions. Drawing from previous work on perceptions of agentic women and precarious manhood theory, we predicted that men in low-power roles may react more negatively to agentic women compared to men in high-power roles. In two experiments, male participants evaluated résumés from male and female job candidates applying for a managerial position. Across experiments, results suggest that lacking power may facilitate biased hiring decisions. U.S. college men assigned to (Experiment 1, n = 83) or primed (Experiment 2, n = 84) with a low-power role rated the female applicant as less hireable and recommended a lower salary for her compared to the male applicant. This difference did not occur in the high-power or baseline conditions. A meta-analysis combining the results of both experiments confirmed that gender bias was limited to the low-power condition. Results are discussed in terms of powerlessness as a masculinity threat that may have downstream consequences for women.
  • Article
    Schwartz Value Theory (SVT; Schwartz in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 1–65, 1992) offers a coherent and well-organized framework for describing and explaining ideological differences. Though not developed within SVT, the pattern of tradeoffs among different values suggests adaption to an interacting set of selection pressures. The present project combines SVT with a variety of evolutionary theories to build a richer nomological network for explaining ideological differences. The paper first draws on evolutionary-coalitional theory (ECT; Sinn and Hayes in Political Psychology, 38, 1043–1064, 2017, in Political Psychology, 2018) to explain key strategic tradeoffs captured by SVT. ECT argues that coalitional conflict in the ancestral environment helped produce three distinct ideological orientations: Right Wing Authoritarianism/Binding, Social Dominance Orientation/Exploiting, and Universalizing/Liberating. Each orientation represents a specific strategic gambit for enhancing reproductive fitness with distinct costs and benefits. The paper then suggests how SVT can potentially offer an even more comprehensive framework for explaining ideological differences by drawing upon evolutionary theories related to life-history, signaling, parent-offspring conflict, and ethnic nepotism.
  • Article
    Extending theory and research on gender roles and masculinity, this work predicts and finds that common ways of talking about climate change are gendered. Climate change policy arguments that focus on science and business are attributed to men more than to women. By contrast, policy arguments that focus on ethics and environmental justice are attributed to women more than men (Study 1). Men show gender matching tendencies, being more likely to select (Study 2) and positively evaluate (Study 3) arguments related to science and business than ethics and environmental justice. Men also tend to attribute negative feminine traits to other men who use ethics and environmental justice arguments, which mediates the relation between type of argument and men’s evaluation of the argument (Study 3). The gendered nature of public discourse about climate change and the need to represent ethical and environmental justice topics in this discourse are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We propose that men scoring higher in precarious manhood beliefs (PMB) express amusement with sexist and anti-gay humor (but not other forms of humor) in response to masculinity threat in order to reaffirm their masculinity. Accordingly, Experiment 1 (166 heterosexual men in the United States recruited through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk) supported the hypothesis that men higher in PMB express greater amusement with sexist and anti-gay jokes after experiencing a threat to their masculinity but not in the absence of masculinity threat. Also, the significant positive relationship between PMB and amusement following a masculinity threat was unique to the sexist and anti-gay jokes; it did not emerge for anti-Muslim and neutral jokes. Experiment 2 (221 heterosexual men in the United States recruited through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk) extended the findings of Experiment 1, supporting the hypothesis that, following a masculinity threat, men higher in PMB express amusement with sexist and anti-gay humor because they believe it reaffirms their masculinity. Thus, our findings suggest that sexist and anti-gay humor serve a self-affirming function for men who possess higher PMB in situations that threaten one’s masculinity. By uncovering a novel psychological function of sexist and anti-gay humor in social settings, we hope the present research will lead to better understandings of the kinds of situations that foster its occurrence and ultimately to strategies for preventing it.
  • Article
    The masculine overcompensation thesis asserts that men react to masculinity threats with extreme demonstrations of masculinity, a proposition tested here across four studies. In study 1, men and women were randomly given feedback suggesting they were either masculine or feminine. Women showed no effects when told they were masculine; however, men given feedback suggesting they were feminine expressed more support for war, homophobic attitudes, and interest in purchasing an SUV. Study 2 found that threatened men expressed greater support for, and desire to advance in, dominance hierarchies. Study 3 showed in a large-scale survey on a diverse sample that men who reported that social changes threatened the status of men also reported more homophopic and prodominance attitudes, support for war, and belief in male superiority. Finally, study 4 found that higher testosterone men showed stronger reactions to masculinity threats than those lower in testosterone. Together, these results support the masculine overcompensation thesis, show how it can shape political and cultural attitudes, and identify a hormonal factor influencing the effect.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Social Analytic Jurisprudence instructs researchers to study the reciprocal relations between law and peoples’ lives by developing empirical descriptions of legal assumptions about human behavior. The present work introduced a new experimental paradigm to test some of those assumptions by studying the impact of sexual objectification in a simulated job interview on performance, sexual harassment judgments, and emotions for women who experienced (akin to complainants), observed (akin to coworkers or witnesses), or predicted (akin to investigators, EEOC officers, mediators, jurors, or judges,) the impact of sexual objectification. Consistent with hypotheses, sexual objectification resulted in worse performance predictions, more sexual harassment, and more negative emotion compared with the control condition, but these effects were moderated by perspective. Overall, predictors estimated worse performance, more sexual harassment, and more negative emotion in response to sexual objectification than observers and experiencers. Anticipated negative emotion and self-referencing explained the effects for predictors. Theoretical and practical implications for legal and psychological theory on sexual harassment, objectification, and affective forecasting are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Objectification theory suggests that the bodies of women are sometimes reduced to their sexual body parts. As well, an extensive literature in cognitive psychology suggests that global processing underlies person recognition, whereas local processing underlies object recognition. Integrating these literatures, we introduced and tested the sexual body part recognition bias hypothesis that women's (versus men's) bodies would be reduced to their sexual body parts in the minds of perceivers. Specifically, we adopted the parts versus whole body recognition paradigm, which is a robust indicator of local versus global processing. The findings across two experiments showed that women's bodies were reduced to their sexual body parts in perceivers' minds. We also found that local processing contributed to the sexual body part recognition bias, whereas global processing tempered it. Implications for sexual objectification and its underlying processes and motives are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • Article
    This study assessed the structure of a widely used measure of masculinity ideology, the Male Role Norms Scale (Thompson & Pleck, 1986), using data from four samples of male college students (total N= 656) at two large, public universities (one Midwestern, one Eastern-Central). Exploratory factor analysis suggested a four-factor model best fit the data in the exploratory sample (sample 1; N = 210). The four factors were Status/Rationality, Antifemininity, Tough Image, and Violent Toughness. A series of confirmatory factor analyses on a validation sample (samples 2, 3, and 4; N = 446), tested four models based on theory (i.e., Brannon, 1976) and previous research (i.e., Thompson & Pleck, 1986). Results from Study 1, our exploratory analysis, indicated that the four-factor model derived from the exploratory sample in Study 1 provided the best fit for the validation sample data of all models tested and also provided a good fit in absolute terms, according to several model–data fit indices. Implications for the assessment of masculinity ideology and suggestions for future research are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This research examined the effects of the objectifying gaze on math performance, interaction motivation, body surveillance, body shame, and body dissatisfaction. In an experiment, undergraduate participants (67 women and 83 men) received an objectifying gaze during an interaction with a trained confederate of the other sex. As hypothesized, the objectifying gaze caused decrements in women’s math performance but not men’s. Interestingly, the objectifying gaze also increased women’s, but not men’s, motivation to engage in subsequent interactions with their partner. Finally, the objectifying gaze did not influence body surveillance, body shame, or body dissatisfaction for women or men. One explanation for the math performance and interaction motivation findings is stereotype threat. To the degree that the objectifying gaze arouses stereotype threat, math performance may decrease because it conveys that women’s looks are valued over their other qualities. Furthermore, interaction motivation may increase because stereotype threat arouses belonging uncertainty or concerns about social connections. As a result, the objectifying gaze may trigger a vicious cycle in which women underperform but continue to interact with the people who led them to underperform in the first place. Implications for long-term consequences of the objectifying gaze and directions for future research are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The purpose of the present research was to examine whether contextual cues related to control contribute to gender differences in math performance that emerge from patronizing behavior. Specifically, in two experiments, men and women received patronizing behavior (i.e., praise paired with a devalued position that did not provide an opportunity for monetary rewards) from a male leader in a stereotypically masculine domain. In this context, we manipulated contextual control cues and measured math performance. In Experiment 1, 113 undergraduates (60 women, 53 men) from a Midwestern University in the United States received the patronizing behavior and all position assignments were made either at the outset (no control) or multiple times (ambiguous control) from one patronizing leader. In Experiment 2, 132 undergraduates (53 women, 79 men) from a U.S. Midwestern University received patronizing behavior and position assignments were made by one leader (ambiguous control) or multiple leaders (enhanced control). Consistent with Hypothesis 1, women had lower performance expectations than men, but no reliable gender differences emerged for desire to succeed. Consistent with Hypothesis 2, gender differences in math performance only emerged in the ambiguous control conditions in Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 with men performing better than women. Finally, consistent with Hypothesis 3, women performed better in the enhanced control (vs. ambiguous control), despite receiving patronizing behavior. Implications for research on patronizing behavior, subtle sexism, and stereotype threat, as well as directions for future research are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Whereas recent work on gender role violations suggests that asserting their heterosexuality may diminish the harmful effects of gender threats (versus gender affirmations) on men’s antigay reactions, predictions derived from social identity theory suggest that asserting heterosexuality can exacerbate the negative effects of a gender threat on antigay reactions. Two studies tested these competing hypotheses. In Study 1, gender threatened versus affirmed men sent more intense noise blasts at a gay partner, but only if they asserted their heterosexuality. In Study 2, men high in sexual prejudice who underwent a gender threat sat farther from a gay confederate than gender affirmed men, but only if they asserted heterosexuality. Discussion considers the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, and highlights directions for future research.
  • Article
    Effect size is becoming an increasingly popular measure of the importance of an effect, both in individual studies and in meta-analyses. However, a large effect size is not the only way to demonstrate that an effect is important. This article describes 2 alternative methodological strategies, in which importance is a function of how minimal a manipulation of the independent variable or how difficult-to-influence a dependent variable will still produce an effect. These methodologies demonstrate the importance of an independent variable or psychological process, even though they often yield effects that are small in statistical terms.
  • Article
    We trace the rise, fall, and resurgence of political ideology as a topic of research in social, personality, and political psychology. For over 200 years, political belief systems have been classified usefully according to a single left-right (or liberal-conservative) dimension that, we believe, possesses two core aspects: (a) advocating versus resisting social change and (b) rejecting versus accepting inequality. There have been many skeptics of the notion that most people are ideologically inclined, but recent psychological evidence suggests that left-right differences are pronounced in many life domains. Implicit as well as explicit preferences for tradition, conformity, order, stability, traditional values, and hierarchy-versus those for progress, rebelliousness, chaos, flexibility, feminism, and equality-are associated with conservatism and liberalism, respectively. Conservatives score consistently higher than liberals on measures of system justification. Furthermore, there are personality and lifestyle differences between liberals and conservatives as well as situational variables that induce either liberal or conservative shifts in political opinions. Our thesis is that ideological belief systems may be structured according to a left-right dimension for largely psychological reasons linked to variability in the needs to reduce uncertainty and threat. © 2008 Association for Psychological Science.