Sex Roles

, Volume 68, Issue 5–6, pp 311–320 | Cite as

Perceived Sexism, Self-Silencing, and Psychological Distress in College Women

Original Article


The current study aimed to increase knowledge related to the role of a restrictive relational strategy in the well-established link between women’s experiences of sexism and psychological distress. Utilizing self-report data, this study examined whether self-silencing mediated the relationship between perceived sexism and psychological distress in a sample of U.S. college women (n = 143) from a large, Midwestern university. It was hypothesized that recent sexist events, lifetime sexist events, and self-silencing would predict increased psychological distress and that self-silencing would mediate the relationship between perceived sexism and distress. Higher recalled sexist events both within the past year and over a lifetime predicted increased psychological distress and self-silencing, while self-silencing predicted increased distress. Results from hierarchical multivariate regression analyses and bootstrapping supported the mediating role of self-silencing between lifetime sexist events and distress and between recent (i.e., occurring in the past year) sexist events and distress. Findings support that the adoption of a restrictive relational strategy partially explains the negative psychological consequences of perceived sexism for college women.


Sexism Psychological distress Self-silencing Interpersonal Women Relational-cultural theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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