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Chapter 8

PSYC12H3 Chapter 8: Sexism

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Michael Inzlicht

Chapter Eight – Sexism  People tend to immediately group other indvs based on these basic categories: age, race, and gender  Sexism: negative attitudes and behaviour towards someone on the bases of their gender o Most researchers use “sexism” to refer to prejudice against women  Sexism influences our attitudes toward women, women’s self-views, women’s career choices, etc.  Stereotypes of women can sabotage their performance of stereotype-related tasks o Ex. Stereotype that women suck at understanding science and math and perform poorly vs men o Spencer, Steele, and Quinn  Found that when this stereotype was made salient to women, they performance suffered compared to a group of equally qualified men Gender Stereotypes  William and Best (1982) o Cross-cultural study found men viewed as stronger, assertive, dominant, active, + aggressive o Women thought to be concerned w/ fostering relationships, nurturing, and deference (i.e. submissive)  Brovernman et al. o Men and women seen as complete opp on almost all traits and characteristics  You may think some of this data is old, and so these stereotypes about sexes are non-existent o HW Bergen and Williams compared the prevalent gender stereotypes about men and women in 1972 and 1988 and found no diff in content of stereotype o Lots of political, economic, and social gains women have made toward more equal status in the last quarter-century, views of women = shaped by traditional stereotypes persist  Deaux and Lewis o Ptcpts were given info about gender of a target indv and the role behv or trait info o Asked to indicate the likelihood that target person had gender-related characteristics o Found gender stereotypes thought of as a set of components, such as traits, role behvs, occupations and phys appearance o Specific gender-stereotype component info has more influence than the influence of gender in evaluations of the target  If people just know that a target indv is a man or woman, they draw on gender-stereotype info in their inferences about the target  If the perceiver knows more specific info about the target, the influence of the gender category fades in the evaluation of the target  Swim suggested that prtcpts use gender info in their evaluations of a target, but the influence of gender = weak preferred to use specific case info in assessments instead of simple gender-category info Measurement of Gender Stereotypes  Bipolar assumption: states an indv has characteristics associated w/ either males or females, not both  Broverman et al. o bipolar assumption guided their devised measures of gender stereotypes o ptcpts forced to choose btw dichotomous trait items (two endpts of a trait indicating the opp ends of a given trait)  inherent bias in design of questionnaire could lead ptcpts to indicate opp characterizations of men and women o HW in open-ended questionnaires – responses were very close the results from Bovermann et al.  Dualistic view: suggests that people can have some of both agentic and communal traits o Agentic traits: traits traditionally been associated w/ males, traits that indicate task orientation, assertiveness, and a striving for achievement o Communal traits (expressive traits): traits traditionally associated w/ females, such as the desire to foster relationships, to be sensitive, and to get along with others  Eagly and Mladinic o Looked at research literature on people’s attitudes toward women and saw that researchers used the Spence and Helmreich’s (1978) Attitudes Toward Women Scale (ATWS) to measure attitudes toward women, even though that was not the purpose of the scale  The scale’s real purpose is to measure attitudes about equality for women o Administered ATWS and asked ptcpts to list traits + attributes of men and women in open-ended questionnaire (as well as to indicate their attitudes toward the equality of women and men in terms of rights and roles in society)  Found that ptcpts’ questionnaire responses = completely uncorrelated w/ ATWS scores  ATWS scores =strongly correlated w/ SR attitudes toward equal rights + roles for women  Past research used ATWS suggesting that people have –ve views of women, when really people had –ve views of the idea of male-female equality in society  Diff in btw male + female ptcpts’ scores on ATWS  men had –ve attitudes toward equal rights for women even though ptcpts had positive attitudes toward women in general; men react –vely to threats to their power dominance over women in society Origin of Gender Stereotypes Religion  Bem and Bem o Major world religions have taught that women = diff from, inferior to, and submissive to men Ex. Church sanctioned prejudice against women, so women were viewed as less than men in spirit and intellect  Devoutly religious persons tend to hold stereotypical gender role attitudes that reflect benevolent sexism Social Learning  Social learning theory  children learn (via reinforcement and modelling) the expectations, goals, interests, abilities and other aspects associated w/ their gender  Conception of gender is shaped by the enviro, esp by parents  Americans tend believe that men and women are naturally diff in temperament, personality and ability o Makes parents feel they are responsible to teach their children what it means to be a boy vs. girl o As children get older, their gender stereotypes become more rigid and resistant to change Cultural Institutions  Society plays a bit part in communicating to children similar gender roles and gender stereotypes o Tv, movies, magazines, and other media, society reinforces that boys and girls are diff and that each gender has gender-appropriate goals, interests, abilities, and roles in society  Child learns if they go against these expected roles, they will be looked at –vely and it will make it difficult to get along with others and succeed in life  Thompson & Zerbinos o Analysis of animated cartoons from 1975 to 1995  males and females were still depicted in very gender-stereotypical way in 90s and the 70s o Male characters given more prominence, talk more, + given all the imp behvs in the cartoon o Sig change in deg of stereotypic portrayal of each gender since early 1980s  More female lead characters, and female cartoon characters are more often portrayed as intelligent, assertive, strong, independent, and competent  Research indicates men and women still adhere to traditional divisions of labor in the household o Women take care of children + clean the house; men get jobs and provide for their family o Even when both the man and woman work, women report doing 65.1% of the household labour, while men only contribute 42.7% o Crosby and Jaskar  this is b/c we look to our parents as a guide for understanding the nature of our roles in the household (if our parents adhered to traditional gender roles in marriage, so will we)  Gender stereotypes in ads influence gender attitudes through normative and informational influence o Normative influence: when hold on to specific attitudes to be liked by others o Informational influence: when we want to be correct in our attitudes (hold onto attitudes of others b/c we think shared attitudes of many people = more likely to be correct than our own) o When we see ads, we infer 2 things: 1) the attitude/msg = correct 2) it is a shared belief by many  Sexist portrayals of womein in ads  pair women and attractiveness o Down and Harrison performed content analysis of 4000 TV commercials  Found that females in ads are associated w/ attractiveness vs. males in ads  Pairing of female performer and male voice-over = more persuasive ad  Goffman conducted in-depth analysis of print ads o Found print ads convey sexism in subtle ways Ex. Men portrayed in agentic or instrumental acts and placed higher in ads vs. women pictured peripheral to actn, featured in poses that draw attn. to their bodies, and are pictured w/ children  Rudman and Borgida  men (even those not prejudiced against women), who are exposed to sexist ads, think of women in more sexualized roles + sexist stereotypes of women are made more salient for them  Face-ism: greater prominence of depictions of men in the media vs. women and greater emphasis on the whole body of the women o Archer et al.  men’s faces given more prominence (faces that are more prominent rated as more intelligent, ambitious, and physically attractive) in 3 contexts:  American magazines  Publications from 11 diff countries  Artwork over las 600 years  suggests faceism conveys msg about the imp of various parts of the body for each gender  Men thought to be achievers vs. women tend to be valued based on physical attractiveness of their body  Gender-stereotyped portrayals of women in ads have –ve effects on women o Schwartz et al.  when women exposed to ads in which they are portrayed as homemakers, they reported less +ve attitudes toward political ptcptn  Activation of cultural stereotype  suppress achievement-related attitudes or depressed, pessimistic outlook on own abilities + career responsibility b/c = implied societal limits o Geis et al.  men and women asked to either watch sex-stereotyped commercials or commercials with sex-roles reversed or asked to list their fav tv programs (control condn)  Women who watched stereotyped commercials reported less achievement imagey and more emphasis on homemaking in their essays to describe their lives 10 years from now  Women + role-reversed commercials  more achievement-related themes in their essay  Highlights strong influence of media on attitudes of women toward themselves and their future (-vely affects their self-concepts and the way society views women)  The enviro + types of women whom women perceivers are exposed to can have a sig effect on their own tendency to engage in automatic gender stereotyping o Dasgupta and Asgari  When women are exposed to famous women who have major contributions to society or to women leaders in their daily enviro = less likely to automatically activate gender stereotypes in their subsequent judgments  Suggest that stable, automatic cognitive process (gender stereotyping activation and endorsement) can be disrupted by exposing indv to women occupying leadership roles Evolution versus Social Roles  Diff in personalities, interests, abilities of men vs women are b/c of diff in biological makeup  Evolutionary psychologists suggest diff are result of Darwinian principle in NS o Suggest stereotypical diff btw males and females are real and they exist b/c evolutionary processes of inclusive fitness (drive to pass on genes) favoured certain behvs for men and different behvs for women o Other perspectives hold that social changes have evolved over time and this has influenced what genes and what characteristics are passed down in men and women  Social-roles theory: gender diff today come from diff social roles men and women perform in society o Not true that diff btw men and women in interests, ability, and characteristics comes from diff in genetics; rather, stems from society teaching us to do and be interested in diff things, and to develop some aspect of personality more than others o The social theory states:  Combo of biological and social factors  division of labor btw sexes emerged  Ppl behave in ways that fit their roles; men likely to have phy, soc, and economic power  Behv diff  continuing basis for social perception, leading us to perceive men as dominant and women as domestic “by nature” when really the diff reflects the roles o Men and women are much more similar than they are different Power  For the longest time, societies = based on strong patriarchal structure, gives power to men > women  Influences such as:  worked to keep societies male dominated in virtually all aspect of life o Stronger male physique, domain of men to be more agentic, and legitimization of male dominance over women by religion and gov  Fiske  diff btw men and women in terms of power explained by same reason that drives sexism and prejudice against women today = control o stereotypes = form of control as they limit the target of the stereotype and legitimize discrimination and prejudice against stereotyped group o Power fosters development of stereotypes about the powerless  When there is power asymmetry, stereotyping serves to maintain the power imbalance  Stereotypes are both descriptive and prescriptive o Descriptive: tell how most ppl in a group behave, think, and feel  Describes group’s motives, explanations, and other aspects of behv  Stereotypes = controlling b/c = pt from which the indv must start or break free from o Prescriptive: suggest how stereotyped groups SHOULD think, feel, and act  Much more controlling  limits range of behvs open to that indv and demands conformity to maintain smooth interactions w/ more powerful o Fiske et al. suggest gender stereotypes = more prescriptive vs other stereotypes (i.e exert control)  B/c we are m more familiar with gender grps vs. other grps, creating larger database from which to derive the prescriptive “should” that make up gender stereotypes o Gill et al. found that prescriptive (and not descriptive) gender stereotypes predicted sexism (this type of stereotyping = resistant to behv info that goes against descriptive stereotypes) Accuracy of Gender Stereotypes  Most researchers regard stereotypes as probability estimates when applied to indvs, rather than accurate characterizations  Much research suggests ppl often apply grp stereotypes that rep a “good enough” judgment about an indv that meets the cog demand for fast judgment + least effortful thinking  Martin  asked men + women to estimate % of men + women who have various characteristics o Found males + females had very stereotypical images of ea. other and they tended to exaggerate small real diff to match gender stereotypes o w/in grp variability is usually larger than perceived, and inter-grp diff tend to be exaggerated in perceptions in ways that conform to expected stereotypes  gender stereotypes are not accurate, but are substantial exaggerations of small group diff Sexist Language  structure + content of our lang also communicates the patriarchal nature of society, affecting the way we think about men + women o ex. common terms for occupations have “man” as the suffix  such terms for occupations have decr w/ incr sensitivity to sexist connotations linking man to an occupation  Gastil  examined how ‘generic masculine’ (use masculine term to refer to both men and women) affects interpretations of the subjects of various sentences o Asked ptcpts to read various sentences aloud then describe whether image of the subj was male or female or neither o Generic he tends to evoke male img in a sig majority of the responses o When children read sentences w/ the generic he, they generally don’t understand that’s it’s meant to denote male and female  Generic masculine terms in job ads affect how women perceive appropriateness of the position for them o When jobs = described w/ masculine pronouns, women are rated as less competent than men to do the job and females lose interest in position, assuming they are not well suited for the position  Other sexist aspects of the English lang are still prevalent today o Women tend to be described in the media by their appearance, whereas men are rarely described that way  ex. “introducing the beautiful…” o “Female doctor” or “woman pilot” implies position is normally a male occupation and when women occupy such an occupation, it’s unusual and must be signified by denoting “female” (same idea applies for female dominated positions occupied by males)  The English lang is sexist in tradition of women being referred to by their relationships o When a woman gets married, her identity becomes “Mrs. John Doe, wife of John Doe” and she also changes her last name to her husbands o Conveys women aren’t imp, + what’s imp = male name, which is passed down to the children Sexist Humor Sexist Jokes Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes (Why do ppl give credit to msg in gender-stereotypic humor when ≠generalizable to entire pop?)  When it comes to understanding the other gender, ppl often rely on their schemas about the gender, and w/in those schemas are a lot of gender stereotypes o = Cognitive misers (want to make fast eval^ns vs accurate ones)  little incentive to disregard info from incorrect sources w/in schema + ppl may consider such as accurate  ppl are exposed to gender stereotype info from a very young age o More we encounter a piece of info, the more likely it’s to be encoded in our mem^y as part of our schema, and this holds true for gender stereotypes o availability heuristic: our judgments about the prob of event will be affected by the availability of that event info  W/ initial percep^ns of male/female  gender stereotypes = made highly salient, along w/ other gender schema info HW research shows ppl think about gender when perceiving the world o Bem  those who tend to think about the world in terms of gender info (=gender schematic) o Stangor found that gender schematic indvs are more likely to process info in terms of gender, made more evaluations in terms of gender stereotypes, and made more errors in memory judgment about behvs performed by their gender o Frable found gender schematic indvs tend to accep
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