Bystander Sexism in the Intergroup Context: The Impact of Cat-calls on Women’s Reactions Towards Men

Abstract

Despite the fact that sexism is an inherently intergroup phenomenon, women’s group-level responses to sexism have received relatively little empirical attention. We examine the intergroup reactions experienced by 114 female students at a U.S. university in New England who imagined being a bystander to a sexist cat-call remark or control greeting. Results indicate that women experienced greater negative intergroup emotions and motivations towards the outgroup of men after overhearing the cat-call remark. Further, the experience of group-based anger mediated the relationship between the effect of study condition on the motivation to move against, or oppose, men. Results indicate that bystanders can be affected by sexism and highlights how the collective groups of men and women can be implicated in individual instances of sexism.

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Acknowledgments

This work is based on the master’s thesis of the first author. We thank Sjoerd Pennekamp for his helpful comments on a previous draft of this manuscript, Jack Dovidio and Janet Barnes-Farrell for their guidance as thesis committee members, and Lindsay Aronheim, Matthew Barry, Daniel Butler, Elizabeth Fabrizi, Randi Ferguson, Nick Frogley, and Sarah Pennington for their help with data collection. Portions of this research were presented at the 6th and 7th Annual Meetings of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

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Correspondence to Stephenie R. Chaudoir.

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Chaudoir, S.R., Quinn, D.M. Bystander Sexism in the Intergroup Context: The Impact of Cat-calls on Women’s Reactions Towards Men. Sex Roles 62, 623–634 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9735-0

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Keywords

  • Sexism
  • Bystander
  • Intergroup emotions
  • Cat-call
  • Gender identity