Sex Roles

, Volume 29, Issue 11–12, pp 739–754 | Cite as

Two investigations of “female modesty” in achievement situations

  • Laurie Heatherington
  • Kimberly A. Daubman
  • Cynthia Bates
  • Alicia Ahn
  • Heather Brown
  • Camille Preston


Two experiments examined motivations underlying the common finding that females present themselves more modestly than males in achievement situations. In Study 1, 388 first-year college students, primarily European-Americans, predicted their first semester grade point averages (GPAs) in one of 3 public and 2 private conditions, which varied the salience of modesty concerns and/or concerns about the others' feelings. In the public conditions combined, but not in the private conditions, women's predictions were lower than men's, although there were no gender differences in actual GPA. The public condition in which the others' feelings and modesty concerns were made salient accounted for this difference between men and women. In Study 2, 230 first-year college students predicted their first-semester GPAs in private, in public to a “nonvulnerable” other, or in public to a “vulnerable” other (someone who supposedly had earned a low GPA). Women's estimates were lower than men's in the latter condition only and lower than their estimates in the other conditions. These results suggest that relational motivations, rather than a simple lack of self-confidence or modesty alone, are a factor in gender differences in self-presentation of achievement.


Gender Difference College Student Social Psychology Common Finding Grade Point Average 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurie Heatherington
    • 1
  • Kimberly A. Daubman
    • 2
  • Cynthia Bates
    • 2
  • Alicia Ahn
    • 3
  • Heather Brown
    • 3
  • Camille Preston
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstown
  2. 2.Bucknell UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Williams CollegeUSA

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