Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 903–919 | Cite as

Social Dominance Orientation Predicts Heterosexual Men’s Adverse Reactions to Romantic Rejection

  • Ashleigh J. KellyEmail author
  • Shelli L. Dubbs
  • Fiona Kate Barlow
Original Paper


We examined the role of social dominance orientation (SDO) as a predictor of men’s reactions to romantic rejection and attitudes toward female sexuality. In Study 1 (n = 158), we found that men who scored higher in SDO were more likely to blame women for romantic rejection, and report having responded to women’s past rejection with persistence and manipulation (e.g., convincing her to “give him another chance”), as well as with aggression and threats of violence. In Study 2 (n = 398), we replicated these findings, and further found that men higher in SDO were more likely to endorse rape myths (e.g., believing that sometimes a woman’s barriers need to be “broken down” in order to attain sex), and to want to lower the legal age of sexual consent in women. Two mediators explained this relationship, hostile sexism and the belief that insubordinate women need to be disciplined. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.


Social dominance orientation Sexism Rejection Consent Rape 



The authors wish to acknowledge Carol Ha for assistance with data collection and Helena R. M. Radke, William von Hippel, and Brendan P. Zietsch for comments on earlier drafts of this article.


  1. Akrami, N., Ekehammar, B., & Araya, T. (2000). Classical and modern racial prejudice: A study of attitudes toward immigrants in Sweden. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30, 521–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altemeyer, B. (1998). The other ‘authoritarian personality’. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 30, pp. 47–92). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Asbrock, F., Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2010). Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation and the dimensions of generalized prejudice: A longitudinal test. European Journal of Personality, 24, 324–340.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, J. C., Glick, P., Ilic, M., & Bohner, G. (2011). Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t: Consequences of accepting versus confronting patronizing help for the female target and male actor. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(6), 761–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker, J. C., & Swim, J. K. (2012). Reducing endorsement of benevolent and modern sexist beliefs: Differential effects of addressing harm versus pervasiveness of benevolent sexism. Social Psychology, 43(3), 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bertrand, M., & Hallock, K. F. (2000). The gender gap in top corporate jobs: NBER Working Paper No. 7931. Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  7. Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., Sayer, L. C., & Robinson, J. P. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social Forces, 79(1), 191–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bizer, G. Y., Hart, J., & Jekogian, A. M. (2012). Belief in a just world and social dominance orientation: Evidence for a mediational pathway predicting negative attitudes and discrimination against individuals with mental illness. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 428–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Black, M., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., … Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
  10. Brinig, M., & Allen, D. W. (2000). These boots are made for walking: Why most divorce filers are women. American Law and Economics Review, 2(1), 126–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brownridge, D. A., Ko Ling, C., Hiebert-Murphy, D., Ristock, J., Tiwari, A., Leung, W. C., … Santos, S. C. (2008). The elevated risk for non-lethal post-separation violence in Canada: A comparison of separated, divorced, and married women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(1), 117–135.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Buss, D. M. (2000). The dangerous passion: Why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. Buss, D. M. (2007). The evolution of human mating. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 39(3), 502–512.Google Scholar
  14. Christopher, A. N., & Wojda, M. R. (2008). Social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, sexism, and prejudice toward women in the workforce. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 65–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Conner, K. R., Cerulli, C., & Caine, E. D. (2002). Threatened and attempted suicide by partner-violent men petitioned to Family Violence Court. Violence and Victims, 17, 115–125.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Evolutionary social psychology and family homicide. Science, 242(4878), 519–524.Google Scholar
  17. Ehrhart, M. G., Ehrhart, K. H., Roesch, S. C., Chung-Herrera, B. G., Nadler, K., & Bradshaw, K. (2009). Testing the latent factor structure and construct validity of the ten-item personality inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(8), 900–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ekehammar, B., Akrami, N., & Araya, T. (2000). Development and validation of Swedish classical and modern sexism scales. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 41, 307–314.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Glass, N., Laughon, K., Rutto, C., Bevacqua, J., & Campbell, J. C. (2008). Young adult intimate partner femicide: An exploratory study. Homicide Studies, 12(2), 177–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 491–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Glick, P., Fiske, S. T., Mladinic, A., Saiz, J. L., Abrams, D., Masser, B., … López W. L. (2000). Beyond prejudice as simple antipathy: Hostile and benevolent sexism across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(5), 763–775.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B. (2003). A very brief measure of the big-five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(6), 504–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Guimond, S., Dambrun, M., Michinov, N., & Duarte, S. (2003). Does social dominance generate prejudice? Integrating individual and contextual determinants of intergroup cognitions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 697–721.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Heaven, P. C. L. (1999). Attitudes toward women’s rights: Relationships with social dominance orientation and political group identities. Sex Roles, 41, 605–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 61–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Ho, A. K., Sidanius, J., Pratto, F., Levin, S., Thomsen, L., Kteily, N. S., … 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(5), 583–606.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hu, L.-T., & Bentler, P. M. (1995). Evaluating model fit. In R. H. Hoyle (Ed.), Structural equation modeling: Concepts, issues, and applications (pp. 76–99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  28. Kerr, D. C. R., & Capaldi, D. M. (2011). Young men’s intimate partner violence and relationship functioning: Long-term outcomes associated with suicide attempt and aggression in adolescence. Psychological Medicine, 41(4), 759–769.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Kteily, N. S., Sidanius, J., & Levin, S. (2011). Social dominance orientation: Cause or ‘mere effect’? Evidence for SDO as a causal predictor of prejudice and discrimination against ethnic and racial outgroups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 208–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lalumière, M. L., Harris, G. T., Quinsey, V. L., & Rice, M. E. (2005). The causes of rape: Understanding individual differences in male propensity for sexual aggression. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  31. Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., Palarea, R. E., Cohen, J., & Rohling, M. L. (2000). Breaking up is hard to do: Unwanted pursuit behaviors following the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Violence and Victims, 15(1), 73–90.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. LaPiere, R. T. (1934). Attitudes versus actions. Social Forces, 13(2), 230–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Little, T. D., Cunningham, W. A., Shahar, G., & Widaman, K. F. (2002). To parcel or not to parcel: Exploring the question, weighing the merits. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 151–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malamuth, N. M., Sockloskie, R., Koss, M. P., & Tanaka, J. S. (1991). Characteristics of aggressors against women: Testing a model using a national sample of college students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(5), 670–681.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Malamuth, N. M., & Thornhill, N. W. (1994). Hostile masculinity, sexual aggression, and gender-biased domineeringness in conversations. Aggressive Behavior, 20, 185–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mazer, D. B., & Percival, E. (1989). Ideology or experience? The relationships among perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of sexual harassment in university students. Sex Roles, 20, 135–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miller, S., Exner, T. M., Williams, S. P., & Ehrhardt, A. A. (2000). A gender-specific intervention for at-risk women in the USA. AIDS Care, 12(5), 603–612.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Naved, R. T. (2013). Sexual violence towards married women in Bangladesh. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 595–602.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. O’Sullivan, L. F., Harrison, A., Morrell, R., Monroe-Wise, A., & Kubeka, M. (2006). Gender dynamics in the primary sexual relationships of young rural South African women and men. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 8(2), 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Payne, D. L., Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1999). Rape myth acceptance: Exploration of its structure and its measurement using the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 33(1), 27–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., Stallworth, L. M., & Malle, B. F. (1994). Social dominance orientation: A personality variable predicting social and political attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(4), 741–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rennison, C. M., & Welchans, S. (2002). Intimate partner violence. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  43. Romans, S., Forte, T., Cohen, M. M., Du Mont, J., & Hyman, I. (2007). Who is most at risk for intimate partner violence? A Canadian population-based study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(12), 1495–1514.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosenthal, L., & Levy, S. R. (2010). Understanding women’s risk for HIV infection using social dominance theory and the four bases of gendered power. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosenthal, L., Levy, S. R., & Earnshaw, V. A. (2012). Social dominance orientation relates to believing men should dominate sexually, sexual self-efficacy, and taking free female condoms among undergraduate women and men. Sex Roles, 67, 659–669.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Russell, B. L., & Trigg, K. Y. (2004). Tolerance of sexual harassment: An examination of gender differences, ambivalent sexism, social dominance, and gender roles. Sex Roles, 50, 565–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Santos-Iglesias, P., Sierra, J. C., & Vallejo-Medina, P. (2013). Predictors of sexual assertiveness: The role of sexual desire, arousal, attitudes, and partner abuse. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1043–1052.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Seimer, B. S. (2004). Intimate violence in adolescent relationships: Recognizing and intervening. American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 29(2), 117–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2009). Big-five personality, social worldviews, and ideological attitudes: Further tests of a dual process cognitive-motivational model. Journal of Social Psychology, 149(5), 545–561.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Sibley, C. G., & Liu, J. H. (2010). Social dominance orientation: Testing a global individual difference perspective. Political Psychology, 31(2), 175–207.Google Scholar
  51. Sibley, C. G., Wilson, M. S., & Duckitt, J. (2007). Antecedents of men’s hostile and benevolent sexism: The dual roles of social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(2), 160–172.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Sidanius, J. (1993). The psychology of group conflict and the dynamics of oppression: A social dominance perspective. In W. McGuire & S. Iyengar (Eds.), Current approaches to political psychology (pp. 183–219). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (Eds.). (1993). The dynamics of social dominance and the inevitability of oppression. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Swami, V., & Tovée, M. J. (2013). Men’s oppressive beliefs predict their breast size preferences in women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(7), 1199–1207.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). The role of stalking in domestic violence crime reports generated by the Colorado Springs Police Department. Violence and Victims, 15(4), 427–441.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man: 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  57. US Department of Labor. (2011). Women in the labor force: A databook (Report 1034). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Google Scholar
  58. Whitley, B. E, Jr. (1999). Right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(1), 126–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Whitley, B. E, Jr, & Lee, S. E. (2000). The relationship of authoritarianism and related constructs to attitudes toward homosexuality. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 144–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1993). An evolutionary psychological perspective on male sexual proprietariness and violence against wives. Violence and Victims, 8(3), 271–294.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Wilson, M. I., & Daly, M. (1996). Male sexual proprietariness and violence against wives. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5(1), 2–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashleigh J. Kelly
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shelli L. Dubbs
    • 1
  • Fiona Kate Barlow
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations