Gender Stereotypes and the Coordination of Mnemonic Work within Heterosexual Couples: Romantic Partners Manage their Daily To-Dos
- 1k Downloads
Couples appear to help each other remember outstanding tasks (“to-dos”) by issuing reminders. We examine if women and men differ in the frequency with which they offer this form of mnemonic assistance. Five studies measure how heterosexual couples coordinate mnemonic work in romantic relationships. The first two studies demonstrate that men are assumed to do less of this form of mnemonic work (Study 1) and experience less societal pressure to do so than women do (Study 2). The next three studies suggest that men tend to do less of this mnemonic work than women do and that, when men do mnemonically help their partners, the help tends to involve errands for which they are stakeholders. This notion was evidenced in the greater accessibility of examples of women’s reminding acts than men’s reminding acts for both partners (Study 3) and in the less helpful reminders that men provided, compared to those women provided, as rated by both partners (Study 4a) and independent coders (Study 4b). These results converge on the possibility that men, relative to women, are less inclined to be concerned with keeping track of their partners” outstanding needs, perhaps because doing so is a behavior that is less strongly prescribed for men than for women. Implications for helping behavior and the possible consequences associated with performing disproportionate mnemonic work in relationships are discussed.
KeywordsSharing mental labor Gender stereotypes Outstanding tasks Helping behavior Prospective memory
We thank Audrey Schield, Alyssa Kenney, Thet Zaw Naing and Elif Naz Coker for their help coding the data and Elizabeth Moulton for feedback on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The manuscript has not been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. All authors have approved this submission and all studies were approved by the IRB.
- Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2010). Motivation. In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., pp. 268–316). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Casper, L. M., & Bianchi, S. M. (2009). The stalled revolution: Gender and time allocation in the United States. In B. Mousli & E. A. Roustang-Stoller (Eds.), Women, feminism, and femininity in the twenty-first century: American and French perspectives (pp. 55–78). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-0-230-62131-2_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chodorow, N. (1978). The reproduction of mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Christoff, K., Gordon, A. M., Smallwood, J., Smith, R., & Schooler, J. W. (2009). Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 8719–8724. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900234106
- Crawford, J., Smith, G., Maylor, E., Della Sala, S., & Logie, R. (2003). The Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire (PRMQ): Normative data and latent structure in a large non-clinical sample. Memory, 11, 261–275. doi: 10.1080/09658210244000027.
- Deaux, K. (1976). The behavior of women and men. Monterey: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
- Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Efklides, A., Yiultsi, E., Kangellidou, T., Kounti, F., Dina, F., & Tsolaki, M. (2002). Wechsler Memory Scale, Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test, and Everday Memory Questionnaire in Healthy Adults and Alzheimer Patients. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 18, 63–77. doi: 10.1027//1015-5722.214.171.124.
- Fenstermaker, S. (1985). The gender factory: The apportionment of work in American households. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., & Stevens, L. E. (1993). What’s so special about sex? Gender stereotyping & discrimination. In S. Oskamp & M. Costanzo (Eds.), Gender issues in contemporary society (pp. 173–196). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Fraidin, S. N., & Hollingshead, A. B. (2005). I know what I'm doing: The impact of gender stereotypes about expertise on task assignments in groups. In M. Neale, E. Mannix, & M. Thomas-Hunt (Eds.), Managing groups and teams (pp. 121–141). Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493-503. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.54.7.493.
- Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2012). Goal pursuit. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of human motivation (pp. 208–231). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Harris, J. E. (1984). Remembering to do things: A forgotten topic. In J. E. Harris & P. E. Morris (Eds.), Everyday memory, actions, and absent-mindedness (pp. 71–92). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Heilman, M. E. (1983). Sex bias in work settings: The lack of fit model. In B. Staw & L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 5, pp. 269–298). Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Hochschild, A. (1989). The second shift: Working parents and the revolution at home. New York: Viking Penguin.Google Scholar
- Kanter, R. M. (1977). Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Klinger, E. (1996). The contents of thoughts: Interference as the downside of adaptive normal mechanisms in thought flow. In I. G. Sarason, G. R. Pierce, & B. R. Saraon (Eds.), Cognitive interference: Theories, methods, and findings (pp. 3–23). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Klinger, E., & Cox, W. M. (2011). Motivation and the goal theory of current concerns. In W. M. Cox & E. Klinger (Eds.), Handbook of motivational counseling: Goal-based approaches to assessment and intervention with addiction and other problems (pp. 1–47). Chichester: Wiley and Sons. doi: 10.1002/9780470979952.ch1.Google Scholar
- Kozloff, M. A. (1988). Productive interactions with students, children and clients. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
- Kuhl, J., & Beckmann, J. (1994). Volition and personality: Action versus state orientation. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
- Littlepage, G. E., Hollingshead, A. B., Drake, L. R., & Littlepage, A. M. (2008). Transactive memory and performance in work groups: Specificity, communication, ability differences, and work allocation. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 12, 223–241. doi: 10.1037/1089-26126.96.36.199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mäntylä, T. (1993). Knowing but not remembering: Adult age differences in recollective experience. Memory & Cognition, 21, 379-88. doi: 10.3758/BF03208271.
- Mason, M. F., Bar, M., & Macrae, C. N. (2009). Exploring the past and impending future in the here and now: Mind-wandering in the default state. Cognitive Science Compendium, 2, 143–162.Google Scholar
- McDaniel, M. A., & Einstein, G. O. (2007). Prospective memory: An overview and synthesis of an emerging field. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Miller, J. B. (1976). Toward a new psychology of women. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Parker, K., & Wang, W. (2013, March 14). Modern parenthood: Roles of moms and dads converge as they balance work and family. Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
- Piliavin, J. A., & Unger, R. K. (1985). The helpful but helpless female: Myth or reality? In V. E. O’Leary, R. Unger, & B. S., Wallston (Eds.), Women, gender, and social psychology (pp. 149–189). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Robinson, J., & Godbey, G. (1997). Time for life. University Park: Penn State Press.Google Scholar
- Shrout, P. E., Bolger, N., Iida, M., Burke, C., Gleason, M. E., & Lane, S. P. (2010). The effects of daily support transactions during acute stress: Results from a diary study of bar exam preparation. In K. T. Sullivan & J. Davila (Eds.), Support processes in intimate relationships (pp. 175–199). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Staub, E. (1978). Positive social behavior and morality: Social and personal influences (Vol. 1). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Tan, E., & Kvavilashvili, L. (2003, September). Gender effects on event- and time-based prospective memory: When and why are females better than men? Paper presented at the meeting of the British Psychological Society, Reading, UK.Google Scholar
- Ward, A. F., & Lynch, J. G. (2015, June 9). On a need-to-know basis: Divergent trajectories of financial expertise in couples and effects on independent search and decision making. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers2.cfm?abstract_id=2616867
- Williams, J. E., & Best, D. L. (1990). Sex and psyche: Gender and self viewed cross-culturally. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
- Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2007). An evolutionary biosocial theory of human mating. In S. Gangestad & J. A. Simpson (Eds.), The evolution of mind: Fundamental questions and controversies (pp. 383–390). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2012). Biosocial construction of sex differences and similarities in behavior. In J. M. Olson & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 55–123). London, England: Elsevier.Google Scholar