The Discrepancy Between How Women See Themselves and Feminists Predicts Identification with Feminism
Many women who accept the basic tenets of feminist ideology are reluctant to call themselves feminists, which is problematic because feminist self-identification is related to a variety of positive outcomes. The present research tests the idea that discrepancies between women’s self-view and feminist-view on the dimensions of competence and warmth are related to identification with feminism. This supposition is guided by the idea that a full understanding of why women have difficulty embracing feminism must take into account not only their view of feminists, but also whether women see themselves as different from feminists. Three online survey studies, which included 387, 288, and 116 adult U.S. women, demonstrate that perception of warmth identification with feminism was lower if women regard feminists as less warm than they see themselves. For perceptions of competence, the direction of this discrepancy was irrelevant: The more women see feminists as differently competent (i.e., higher or lower), the less they identify with feminists. Moreover, perceived discrepancy predicted identification with feminism even after controlling for women’s agreement with feminist values. Both endorsement of feminist values and perceived discrepancy are important in predicting identification with feminism and therefore practical interventions to maximize identification should target both of these components. For perceived discrepancy, interventions to reduce feminist-self discrepancies will likely be most effective if they target stereotypes of feminists as being cold.
KeywordsFeminism Self-concept Group identity Stereotyped attitudes Stereotype content model
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