Kray et al: The effects of Implicit Gender Role Theories on Gender System Justification (2017, JPSP)

“understanding why and under what circumstances people resist change is of critical importance for those invested in reducing gender inequality.”

Individuals have a fundamental need to view a social system positively and will engage in a number of motivated processes to rationalize the status quo (Glick & Fiske, 2001; Jost & Banaji, 1994; Jost & Kay, 2005; Kunda, 1990; Sidanius & Pratto, 2001).

we consider whether men’s (but not women’s) support for the status quo increases when holding the belief that gender roles are fixed as opposed to malleable.

Implicit Gender Roles Theories: beliefs about the malleability or fixedness of the social roles inhabited by men and women so what about the malleability of sex roles?

Because men enjoy more status and power in society (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004; Bem 1993), understanding the factors that increase or decrease their recognition of gender inequality is critical for bringing about social change. Understanding the circumstances under which, or predictors of, men endorse or do not endorse sexist ideologies is important for strides towards gender equality in the sexual domain. 

Gender roles speak to divisions of household labor, job segregation, and gender differences in status and authority. Sexual gender roles speak to the roles and sensibilities adopted by women and men in the bedroom or in sexual situations/encounters/ sexual domain. These roles are scripted and difficult to change or deviate from.

Asserting gender differences as established facts triggers the system justification motive for men, but not women (Morton, Postmes, Haslam, & Hornsey, 2009). So in the current paper, they want to see if believing gender roles are fixed as opposed to malleable predicts support for the status quo. Because of course if things are innate and hard to change, we want to find a way to rationalize the system we’re in.

Implicit theories of gender roles explain why men justify the gender hierarchy more than women. (I say it’s also because they are more served by the hierarchy than women). They seem to see masculine identity as motivation for rationalizing the gender hierarchy. (I see desire to dominate women/maintain male power as motivation for rationalization).

PSYCHOLOGICAL ESSENTIALISM: ontology that supposes there are unchanging essences that form the core of what it means to belong to a given category (Gelman & Taylor, 2000, Prentice & Miller, 2006). So differences are biological and immutable.

        Exposure to those explanations bolsters the endorsement of gender seterotypes (Hogg & Turner, 1987). Theoretical perspective that essentialism functions to rationalize inequality (Keller, 2005; Yzerbyt, Rocher, & Schadron, 1977). 

PErceptions of group differences as essential rely on stereotypes and therefore reinforce beliefs that the current system is fair, and that inequality is an inevitable result of how men adn women’s social (sexual) roles are differently valued.

Gender performances are guided by gender norms and stereotypes, which dictate beaviors and attributes that are allowed versus forbidden from being displayed (Bem, 1981; Prentice & Carranza, 2002)

Implicit gender role theories may differ based on how strongly one identifies iwth their gender (gender identity strength, degree to whcih group membership is important).

Dominant group members are motivaed to defend the status quo/justify the system when it’s threatened with change or when the legitimacy of their position is in doubt (Ellemers, van Knippenberg, & Wilke, 1990; Hornsey, Spears, Cremers, & Hogg, 2003).

 YESSSSSS why it’s all synthesizedAs advantaged group members, men’s ego, group, and system motives are often consistent and mutually reinforcing (JJost, J. T., Burgess, D., & Mosso, C. (2001). Conflicts of legitimation among self, group, and system: The integrative potential of system justification theory. In J. T. Jost & B. Major (Eds.), The psychology of legitimacy: Emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations (pp. 363–388). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Jost, J. T., Gaucher, D., & Stern, C. (2015). “The world isn’t fair”: A system justification perspective on social stratification and inequality. In M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, J. F. Dovidio, & J. A. Simpson (Eds.), APA handbook of personality and social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 317–340). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

If guys are operating with essentialist implicit gender role theories, then being told you’re not masculine is probably way more threatening than if you think men adn women are the way they are cause of society. Also, because men are the in-power group, they have more to lose by admitting the system isn’t justified or the hierarchy is not legitimate.   SO_ believing in fixed gender roles may trigger men’s efforts to assure their gender status by strengthening their identification with teh male gender group, and also to see that the gender hierarchy is fair and legitimate.

The gender system privileges masculinity over femininity: Ridgeway and Correll 2004

Biological essentialism. Participants indicated their agreement
with a seven-item measure (alpha = .87) of gender-specific
biological essentialism (Brescoll et al., 2013, adapted from Keller,
2005). Sample items include: “Men commit the majority of violent
crimes in this country because they have a greater predisposition
toward violence than women,” and “Part of the reason why women
are more emotional than men is because of the way they’re
hard-wired.” The response scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree)
to 6 (strongly agree). Higher scores indicated greater agreement
with an essentialist explanation of gender.

-fixed beliefs about gender roles were associated with greater justification of
gender system inequality and a stronger preference for traditional gender roles (as opposed to egalitarian gender roles).
– reading about fixed theories of gender roles caused men to self-stereotype more (makse sense as they’re advantaged group members in the gender hierarchy… it’s a GOOD thing to be the male stereotype). AND, the more someone identifies with their gender (self-stereotypes?), the more they justify the system (and men do this more than women)
– of people who read about fixed gender roles, men justified the gender system more than women. Men and women who read about changable gender roles did not differ in their system justification.
– more fixed beliefs about gender roles predicts greater system justification, which is moderated by how strongly you identify with your gender.


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