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A Real Time Social Norms Intervention to Reduce Male Sexism


College males’ overestimation of peers’ sexism may result in reluctance to challenge these toxic attitudes. Researchers investigated the power of a brief intervention to correct these cognitive distortions in Southeastern U.S. undergraduate samples of unacquainted (N = 65; 86.2% Caucasian) and acquainted males (N = 63; 82% Caucasian). Participants first reported selfperceptions of attitudes toward women and then estimated the attitudes of other men present. Intervention participants attended brief presentations that included feedback on discrepancies between actual and perceived norms within their groups. At 3 week follow up, there was a significant decrease in perceptions of peers’ sexism for intervention groups, indicating that a brief intervention may be useful in sexism reduction.

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Correspondence to Christopher Kilmartin.

Additional information

The authors wish to thank the Virginia Department of Health and the University of Mary Washington Advisory Council on Diversity and Community Values for financial support of this project, and Christine McBride for her help in the preparation of the manuscript.

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Kilmartin, C., Smith, T., Green, A. et al. A Real Time Social Norms Intervention to Reduce Male Sexism. Sex Roles 59, 264–273 (2008).

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  • Sexual assault
  • Prevention
  • Sexism
  • Social norms