Sex Roles

, Volume 62, Issue 7–8, pp 438–452 | Cite as

An Opposing Process Model of Benevolent Sexism

Original Article


An Opposing Process Model outlining the pathways through which individual differences in Benevolent Sexism (BS) simultaneously enhance and attenuate support for gender equality of income and employment opportunity is presented. Results from a New Zealand electoral sample (N = 336) indicated that BS predicted Hostile Sexism (HS), and thus indirectly opposition toward gender-related policies (a hierarchy-enhancing effect). For women, BS also directly predicted attitudes toward gender equality in the opposing, supportive direction (a hierarchy-attenuating effect). Analyses of a 9-month longitudinal sample of undergraduate women substantiated these results (Study II; N = 170). In stable societies, the dual opposing effects of BS seem to form a system where hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating processes tend toward homeostasis or equilibrium within the population.


Ambivalent sexism Social policy System justification Moderated mediation Homeostatic system Equilibrium 



Portions of the data in Study 1 were collected as part of Ryan Perry’s honors thesis. We thank Tiane Lee, Irene Frieze and Nickola Overall for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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