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Chapter 8


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Michael Inzlicht

PSYC12 WINTER 2013 CHAPTER 8: SEXISM INTRODUCTION  Sexism: Negative attitudes and behavior toward someone on the basis of their gender – mostly refers to sexism against women  In subtle and overt forms, sexism influences our attitudes toward women, women’s views of themselves, women’s career choices and countless other aspects of women’s lives  Stereotypes of women can also sabotage their performance on stereotype-related tasks o Spencer, Steele & Quinn (1999) found that when the negative stereotype about the math and science abilities of women were made salient to women participants, their performance suffered relative to a group of equally qualified men.  Stereotype threat and the pernicious effects of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination can impair performance, limit opportunities and affect one’s self- concept  Research suggests that gender stereotypes are so well learned that they automatically influence our perceptions and judgments, often without out conscious awareness of such bias. GENDER STEREOTYPES  Gender role stereotypes indicate that women are unaggressive, dependent, emotional, easily persuaded, dislike math and science, passive, polite, gentle, nurturing, compassionate, neat, indecisive, concerned with appearance, quid while men tend to be viewed as aggressive, independent, nonemotional, decisive, confident, rough, blunt, sloppy, and loud – cross cultural consensus on the content of gender stereotypes  Men and women were seen as complete opposites on virtually all of the traits and characteristics listed (hence the term the opposite sex)  Despite the great political, economic and social gains women have made towards equal status over the last 25 years, people’s views of women still tend to be shaped by traditional gender stereotypes that persist today  If people just know the gender of a person, they will draw on gender-serotype information in their inference about the target however once the perceivers knows more specific information about the target, the influence of the gender category will diminish in the perceiver’s evaluation of the target, an the target will be viewed according to the specific component information. MEASUREMENT OF GENDER STEREOTYPES  Bipolar assumption: The notion that men and women are so diametrically opposite – this view has been heavily criticized and now we employ the dualistic view  Dualistic view: People can have some of both Agentic and communal traits  Agentic traits are those that have been traditionally associated with males, traits that indicate task orientation, assertiveness and striving for achievement PSYC12 WINTER 2013  Communal traits or expressive traits are those that have traditionally been associated with women such as the desire to foster relationships, to be sensitive, and to get along with others  Spence and Helmreich’s Attitudes Towards Women Scale (ATWS) to measure attitudes toward women – scale actually measures attitudes toward equal rights and roles and privileges for women  Study by Eagly and Mladinic in 1989 o Researchers used ATWS scale on male and female college students o ATWS was seen to not measure attitudes toward women but attitudes toward equal rights and privileges for women in society o Men and women may have positive attitudes toward women in general, men may react more negatively though to threats to their power dominance over women in society and thus have negative views towards female equality ORIGIN OF GENDER STEREOTYPES Religion  Bem and Bem (1970) found that many major religions around the world (Christian, Judaism, Islam) have tougher that women are differed from, inferior to and subservient to men  Research also indicates that those who are more devoutly religious are more likely to hold stereotypical gender role attitudes and those attitudes tend to reflect a benevolent sexism  It should be noted that most religions toward have made tremendous advances in their perspective on the status of women in relation to men  In sum, religion has had a tremendous influence on the attitudes of society toward women which has often resulted in a view that women are inferior and subservient to men Social Learning  According to social learning theory, children learn through reinforcement and modeling the expectations, goals, interests, abilities and other aspects associated with their gender  Children’s conceptualization of what their gender means to them is shaped by their environment and most importantly by their parents  Through rewarding what are deemed gender-appropriate behaviors and punishing or discouraging supposedly gender-inappropriate behaviors (differential reinforcement), parents teach the child about their gender  Children also learn about their gender by watching their parents and important others in their environment engage in behavior  Substantial evidence to indicate that the influence of the parent in shaping the child’s gender identity is substantial and lasting  Additionally, Americans tend to adhere to the beliefs that men and women are naturally different in temperament, personality and ability  According Jacklin and Baker, a likely reason that studies have failed to show evidence of different socialization by parents of boys vs. girls is that parents are egalitarian in their socialization of children and that the stereotypic gender roles and characteristics are acquired via other socialization agents such as friends, teachers and media PSYC12 WINTER 2013  Harris stated the influence of parents in the socialization of their children is minimal at best and that the child’s aforementioned non parental socializing agents (especially friends) strongly shape the child’s personality and gender identity – highly controversial and goes against much evidence Cultural Institutions  Cultural institutions such as media, television, movies, magazines reinforce the notion that boys and girls are indeed different and that each gender has gender- appropriate goals, interests, abilities and roles in society  TV shows gave men more prominent positions and roles and women more supportive or marginal roles  Men and women still adhere to traditional divisions of labor in the household where women cook and clean and take care of the children while men get a job  Even when both members of the couple work full time, women do more of the housework  Normative influence: when we wish to hold a particular attitude in order to be liked by others  Informational influence: when we wish to be correct in our attitudes because we believe the shared attitude of many others I more likely to be correct than if we developed at attitude about the issue on our own  Sexist portrayals of women in advertising take the form of pairing women with attractiveness because they evoke positive emotions and thus sell more products/services  Goffman found that print ads convey sexism in many subtle ways o Men perform agentic or instrumental act whereas women are always on the periphery o Women pose in ways that bring more attention to their body even when its not something that is worn o Men tend to be placed higher in ads compared to women o Men have their arms around women and hold the women’s hand, not the other way around indicating dominance in the relationship  Face-ism is the greater facial prominence of depictions of men in the media vs. women and greater emphasis on the whole body of women due to the patriarchal history of society that objectifies women and has their value linked more to their physical beauty and less to their intellectual ability  Men have more facial prominence in magazines, publications and artwork  Archer et al suggests o Emphasis on face for men suggests that men are more seen as bright, achievers o Women tend to valued primarily of the physical attractions of their body  Wagner, Bannert and Mathes found that when women were exposed to ads that portrayed women in traditional roles, they reported less positive attitudes toward political participation  The activation of a common cultural stereotype such as women as homemakers result in a suppression of a achievement-related attitudes or perhaps a depressed, pessimistic outlook on her own abilities and career possibilities due to implied societal limits set forth in the traditional stereotype of women as homemakers  Study on stereotypic commercials and essay writing showed that women who viewed the stereotyped commercials reported less achievement imagery and more PSYC12 WINTER 2013 emphasis on homemaking compared with men and those in the control and role reversed conditions  Interestingly, the data also indicated that when women viewed the role-reversed commercials, women’s essays contained much more achievement related themes than those of women in the sex-role stereotyped condition.  The media does not just reflect popular cultural stereotypes about gender, it perpetuates them and creates new gender stereotypes that negatively affect women’s self-concepts and the way society views women  Research by Dasgupta and Asgari found that when women are exposed to famous women who have made major contributions to various areas, they are much less likely to automatically activate gender stereotypes in their subsequent judgments.  This suggests that a well-entrenched, automatic cognitive process (gender stereotyping activation and endorsement) can be disrupted and perhaps eliminated by exposing the individual to women who occupy leadership (counter stereotypic) positions Evolution vs. Social Roles  Evolutionary psychologists believe the genetic makeup that leads to differential abilities, personalities, and interests are a function of natural selection.  Natural selection is the process hereby those with genetic fitness are those who are most able to adapt successfully to the environment and those who have successfully adapted can pass on their genes  Inclusive Fitness: directly increase gene pool by producing offspring or indirectly by helping a genetic relative survive and pass on its genes  According to Eagly’s Social-Roles Theory, gender differences that re present today come from the different social roles that men and women perform in society o We are different not because of genetics but because of what society has taught us to do and be interested in different things and to develop some aspects of our personality more than others.  Social Roles Theory o Through a combination of biological and social factors, a division of labor between the sexes has emerged over time o Since people behave in ways that fit the roles they play, men are more likely to wielded physical, social, and economic power o These behavioral difference provide a continuing basis for social perception, leading us to perceive men as dominant by nature and women as domestic by nature when in fact the difference reflect the roles they play  At present, social roles theory provides the most parsimonious account for the observed differences between men and women in their social behaviors Power  Throughout the ages, societies have been based on a strong patriarchal structure where men are granted power over women  Explanations for this disparity in equality range from the stronger male physique, the province of men to e more agentic or instrumental compared with women who need to be more geographically stationary to raise and protect their children and the legitimization of male dominance over women by religion and government. PSYC12 WINTER 2013  According to Fiske, the initial difference between men and women in terms of power can be explained by the same reason that drives sexism and prejudice against women today – control  Fiske suggests that stereotypes are a form of control in that the they limit the target and legitimize discrimination and prejudice against the stereotyped group  Fiske argues that power fosters the development of stereotypes about the powerless because stereotyping serves a useful function of maintaining the power imbalance  Within a situation of power imbalance, those in power will adopt ideologies and beliefs that legitimize their dominance over the less powerful, in this case women, in order to stabilize the oppression of the powerless and minimize group conflict through their institutionalization within society  Descriptive stereotypes: tell how most people in a group behave, think and feel and describe the group’s motives, expectations and other aspects of behavior  Prescriptive stereotypes: even more controlling, how stereotyped groups SHOULD think, feel or act and thus limits the range of behaviors open to the stereotyped individual and it demands conformity to some or most aspects of the stereotyped in order maintain smooth interactions with the more powerful  Gender stereotypes are more prescriptive than others and thus more controlling ACCURACY OF GENDER STEREOTYPES  Stereotypes are broad generalizations of members of a group and suggest that all members have similarity among themselves and this unique constellation of characteristics sets them apart from other groups  Gordon Allport asserts that all stereotypes are based on a kernel of truth – one type of accuracy: addressing the situation of actual accuracy of the stereotype in describing the characteristics of the entire group  Martin, 1987, asked men and women to estimate the percentage of men and women who have various characteristic and results indicated that males and females had very stereotypical images of each other and they tended to exaggerate small real differences to match gender stereotypes o Within-group variability is usually larger than is perceived and intergroup differences tend to be exaggerated in perception in ways that conform to expected stereotypes SEXIST LANGUAGE  Generic masculine – many people still use terms to refer to both men and women in certain jobs and in general phrases  Women are tended to be described by their appearance whereas men are rarely done so  Occupations that were previously male dominated or female dominated use a gender qualifier when introducing the other gender in the role – male nurse, male model, female doctor, woman pilot as if to say that person is occupying a position that is unusual  English language is sexist in the tradition of women being referred to by their relationships – traditionally when a woman gets married, she loses her identity and becomes her husband’s wife instead of her own person. o She has a moniker signifying martial status (Ms., Mrs.,) whereas men see no change o She loses her last name, men do not and it is not just kept as is PSYC12 WINTER 2013  Men are less likely than women to recognize sexist language as sexist. SEXIST HUMOUR Sexist Jokes Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes  Humor that describes the differences between men and women are the restatements of gender stereotypes  Fair amount of credence of gender stereotypic humor supposed kernel of truth o Relationships between men and women are confusing o People are exposed to gender-stereotype information from a very young age  Availability heuristic: states that our judgments about he probability of an event will be affected by the availability of that even information o Bem suggested there are people who tend to think about the world in terms of gender information (gender schematic) and those who don’t think about the world in gender terms (gender aschematic)  Frable found that gender schematic individuals tend to accept culturally prescribed roles for each gender and tend to endorse sexist language more than nongender schematic persons.  It appears that those who think about the world in male/female terms tend to have more accessible gender schemas, more fully elaborated gender schemas, and more accessible gender stereotypes than those for whom the world is not so partitioned. Perceptions of Sexist Humour  Those with less traditional views of women rated sexist cartoons as less funny than nonsexist cartoon but men and women rated the sexist cartoons as significantly funnier than the nonsexist cartoons  Love and Deckers 1989 study found that women found sexist cartoon less funny than non sexist cartoon as women found sexist cartoons to be less funny than did me  Zillman’s dispositional theory of humour states that the more one feels sympathy for the victim of a disparaging joke, the less likely one will find that joke funny.  Bill and Naus 1992 study asked participants to rate the humor and acceptability o actual sexist and nonsexist incidents  Women may find sexist humour funny because they don’t see it as sexist but as harmless fun about the difference between and the stereotypes about the sexes  Another possibility is that women may perceive sexist humour as sexist, but they want to get along with others and so they do not stand up against sexism but rather go along with others in perceiving the sexist humor as benign fun. Is Sexist Humor Harmless Fun?  Sexist humor however seemingly benign have negative implication for society and may indicate a deeper hostili
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