Sex Roles

, Volume 66, Issue 7–8, pp 453–467 | Cite as

Ambivalence Toward Men: Comparing Sexism Among Polish, South African and British University Students

  • Magdalena ZawiszaEmail author
  • Russell Luyt
  • Anna Maria Zawadzka
Original Article


This study extends the literature on attitudes toward gender roles by exploring whether the nature of sexism (i.e., benevolence and hostility directed at men) differs among university students from two under-researched countries, Poland (n = 190) and South Africa (n = 188), in a comparison with students in the United Kingdom (n = 166). Based on empirical literature applying Ambivalent Sexism Theory, and in the light of the socio-political context, it was hypothesized that: (1) both hostile and benevolent attitudes toward men in Poland would be more liberal than in South Africa and more conservative than in the United Kingdom, and (2), women would exhibit more hostile but less benevolent attitudes than men in relatively more conservative South Africa. The Ambivalence to Men Inventory was used to measure the two types of sexist attitudes about men. Findings supported the first hypothesis for hostile attitudes and partially for benevolent attitudes. South African and Polish students were more benevolent and hostile to men than British students, and students from South Africa were more hostile than those from Poland. Moreover, as predicted, a significant country-by-gender interaction revealed that South African women had more hostile and less benevolent attitudes to men than South African men. No such gender gap was present in the case of hostile attitudes in Poland and benevolent attitudes in the United Kingdom. Findings are discussed in terms of Ambivalent Sexism Theory and the countries’ socio-cultural context.


Ambivalent sexism Gender attitudes Poland United Kingdom South Africa 



We would like to thank Prof. Irene Frieze, four anonymous reviewers, and Dr David Giles for their insightful and useful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. We would also like to thank the University of Winchester for sponsoring this research through a Research and Knowledge Transfer Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magdalena Zawisza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Russell Luyt
    • 1
  • Anna Maria Zawadzka
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychologythe University of WinchesterWinchesterUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GdańskGdańskPoland

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