Sex Roles

, Volume 77, Issue 3–4, pp 272–286 | Cite as

Of Tooth and Claw: Predator Self-Identifications Mediate Gender Differences in Interpersonal Arrogance

  • Michael D. Robinson
  • Jessica L. Bair
  • Tianwei Liu
  • Matthew J. Scott
  • Ian B. Penzel
Original Article


Men often score higher than women do on traits or tendencies marked by hostile dominance. The purpose of the present research was to contribute to an understanding of these gender differences. Four studies (total N = 494 U.S. undergraduates) administered a modified animal preference test in which participants could choose to be predator or prey animals, but not labeled as such. Men were consistently more interested in being predator animals than women were, displaying a sort of hostile dominance in their projective preferences. Predator self-identifications, in turn, mediated gender differences in outcomes related to hostile dominance. Studies 1 and 2 provided initial evidence for this model in the context of variations in interpersonal arrogance, and Studies 3 and 4 extended the model to nonverbal displays and daily life prosociality, respectively. The findings indicate that gender differences in hostile dominance are paralleled by gender differences in preferring to think about the self in predator-like terms. Accordingly, the findings provide new insights into aggressive forms of masculine behavior.


Gender differences Hostility Dominance Predator Self-identification Mediation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Sources of Funding


Conflict of Interest


Informed Consent

Each participant was informed concerning the nature of the research and signed a consent form.

Animal Welfare

The research did not involve non-human animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Robinson
    • 1
  • Jessica L. Bair
    • 2
  • Tianwei Liu
    • 3
  • Matthew J. Scott
    • 4
  • Ian B. Penzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Meritco ServicesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Psychology DepartmentArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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