Maintaining the Status Quo through Ambivalent Attitudes towards Men: The Unique Roles of Benevolence and Hostility

Renee Patrice Zande (2010). Maintaining the Status Quo through Ambivalent Attitudes towards Men: The Unique Roles of Benevolence and Hostility PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Renee Patrice Zande
Thesis Title Maintaining the Status Quo through Ambivalent Attitudes towards Men: The Unique Roles of Benevolence and Hostility
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Barbara Masser
Associate Professor Julie Duck
Total pages 357
Total black and white pages 357
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary This program of research sought to explore the role of benevolent and hostile attitudes towards men in the maintenance of gender inequality. In Study 1, participants (N = 539) completed the Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory (AMI), along with the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI) and other scales measuring sexist and socially conservative attitudes. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the AMI and ASI were not distinct, as previously proposed by Glick and Fiske (1996; 1999). Instead, the benevolent attitudes towards men (BM) and benevolent attitudes towards women (BS) subscales were inseparable. Regression analyses revealed that BM and BS display similar associations with traditional and socially conservative views. Further, the hostile attitudes towards men (HM) subscale was not clearly associated with views that provide support for, or acquiescence to, gender inequality. Study 2 and 3 sought to determine whether BM and HM contribute to inequality by influencing evaluations of individual target men, and encourage conformity to gender roles by punishing transgressions. In Study 2, participants (N = 96) responded to a scenario depicting an individual engaging in aggressive behaviour to protect their same-sex friend or opposite-sex romantic partner. As expected, BM and BS were positively correlated with tolerance of physical aggression in men if they were protecting a female partner, rather than a male friend. BM and BS were also positively correlated with acceptance of aggression in women if they were protecting a female friend. Thus, although benevolent sexism supports the dominant behaviour of men (when in the service of protecting women), support for aggressively dominant behaviour was also extended to women. In Study 3, participants (N = 97) read two scenarios involving parents and their employment choices. As expected, BM and BS were associated with positive evaluations of fathers who remained employed and negative evaluations of fathers who stayed at home to care for their child. BM was also negatively correlated with acceptance of fathers, but not mothers, who applied for leave. In Study 3, participants also read two scenarios depicting domestic abuse and sexual harassment. Contrary to expectations, HM was unrelated to evaluations of men who abused their dominant position over women. BS, however, was associated with less negative evaluations of men who abused their female partners, while BM was associated with acceptance of men sexually harassing female co-workers, when the victim clearly refused her harasser’s advances (thus violating the caring and subservient feminine role). These findings suggest that benevolent forms of sexism support the continued dominance of men through the expectation that men should act as providers rather than carers, and through the perception that men’s abuse of women is permissible in certain circumstances. HM, however, may be directed towards men as the ‘dominant group’, rather than towards men as individuals. Study 4 provided an empirical examination of Glick and Whitehead’s (2010) assertion that BM and HM support the status quo through a lack of collective action due to beliefs in the legitimacy and stability of inequality. Participants (N = 274) completed a questionnaire assessing attitudes towards men and the gendered social structure, and attitudes towards collective action. In line with Glick and Whitehead, BM was positively correlated with viewing gender inequality as legitimate, which in turn was negatively correlated with favourable attitudes towards, and intentions to engage in, collective action. As expected, HM was positively correlated with viewing gender inequality as stable. HM was, however, negatively correlated with viewing gender inequality as legitimate. In spite of the disparaging belief that men would continue to hold higher status in society, HM was positively correlated with favourable attitudes towards, and intentions to engage in, collective action. Thus, HM represents a direct challenge to the status quo. Study 5a and 5b examined the proposal that HM may support the status quo through an alienating effect on others. In both studies, participants (Ns = 261, 234 respectively) read scenarios depicting fellow employees who were overhead expressing their attitudes towards men, which were a combination of high and/or low BM and HM beliefs. As expected, female employees who displayed high hostility or low benevolence toward men were perceived less positively, and as more sexist, than male employees espousing the same views. Nevertheless, openly displaying high HM did not adversely affect support for the female employee’s petition for an affirmative action program for women in Study 5a, or application for workplace promotion in Study 5b. In conclusion, subjectively positive views of men (i.e., BM) were found to pose an obstacle to the attainment of equality. Only valuing men in a stereotypical and restrictive manner, where they are expected to be strong and competent providers, is detrimental for both men and women. Despite implying the inevitability of male dominance, negative views of men (i.e., HM) were found to involve an explicit rejection of, and threat to, the status quo that has not been previously recognised.
Keyword ambivalent sexism
sex roles
stereotyped attitudes
collective action
Additional Notes Landscape pages: 75, 78, 81, 84, 111, 130, 147, 157, 169, 188, 197, 201, 202, 219, 234

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Created: Thu, 10 Feb 2011, 17:03:45 EST by Ms Renee Zande on behalf of Library - Information Access Service