A Behavior Intervention to Reduce Sexism in College Men

Abstract

Sexism is associated with a number of negative outcomes, including gender-based violence and pay inequity. Men overestimate their male peers’ sexism, which may make them reluctant to intervene. Moreover, they often have little practice at doing so. Several researchers have demonstrated that attitude change can be effected through behavior change. The current study involved a preliminary investigation of the power of a behavior intervention to reduce sexist attitudes in undergraduate males at a southeastern United States university. All participants (N = 43; 85.4 % Caucasian) completed measures for sexism and rape supportive attitudes, once from the perspective of the self and then from estimations of the “average male” in their groups. Participants (N = 23) in the behavior intervention critiqued sexist ideologies through verbal role playing and a written exercise, while participants in the control condition (N = 20) completed an assertiveness skills intervention and a written exercise. Two weeks later, all participants completed the same measures. Participants in the behavior intervention group showed a significant decrease in sexist attitudes (F (1, 41) = 4.55, p = .04) compared with control participants, demonstrating that a behavior intervention measurably reduces sexism in college men.

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Correspondence to Christopher Kilmartin.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Behavior Intervention Stimuli

Hostile Sexism

  1. 1.

    I never understand why women go to sports bars on Monday nights. They don’t know anything about football, so why do they even show up? They just get in the way of the screen.

  2. 2.

    I was in line at the bookstore the other day and saw a hot chick buying a physics textbook. What the hell is she doing in physics?! I almost dropped dead from laughter. She should be modeling, not taking a man’s class.

  3. 3.

    The only reason they let women into college now is to keep men entertained. Except all women colleges; that’s where they send the feminist lesbians.

  4. 4.

    The reason women suck at driving is because there is no road between the bedroom and the kitchen.

  5. 5.

    Hooters is the best place ever. They know that a woman’s only job should be serving a man.

  6. 6.

    I have only prayed two times in my life: the first being when a condom broke and the second being when I got on a plane with a female pilot.

Benevolent Sexism

  1. 1.

    My friend’s girlfriend got into an argument with another guy yesterday over the right amount to tip at a restaurant. It was really awkward because he did not step in and back her up. He just stood nearby and did not say a thing.

  2. 2.

    I can’t believe it when guys let their girlfriends go to parties by themselves. What if some other guy tries to hit on them? Who is going to make sure that they are safe? It is every man’s responsibility to take care of and defend the pretty little things.

  3. 3.

    One of the reasons I am in college is so I can get a good job. That way when I do get married my wife doesn’t have to worry about the money. Women should never have to work because it is her dad’s or husbands job to provide for her.

  4. 4.

    Once I made the mistake of buying myself a shirt that looked like hell on me. I learned my lesson; always take your girlfriend with you when you go shopping. She knows how to dress.

  5. 5.

    Yesterday when I was going into the library there was this guy right behind this lady and he did not even try to open the door for her. That is not how I was raised; a man should always open the door for a lady.

  6. 6.

    I don’t understand why any man would be a stay at home dad since women are naturally more nurturing and better care givers.

Rape Supportive Attitudes

  1. 1.

    It’s really messed up when women get mad at men for staring at them. I know they like it, they’re just being bitches trying to act innocent. If they don’t want to get looked at then they should put some more clothes on!

  2. 2.

    I don’t understand how so many women get away with playing the ‘rape card’. More than likely, they were wearing slutty clothes and were teasing the guy all night. And when a man actually makes a move they act like they didn’t want it.

  3. 3.

    When it comes to getting laid, the best thing to do is to get the bitches drunk! It’s not like they aren’t going to whore around anyways. If they are drunk it just cuts all the crap out and men can get straight to business! Anyways if they didn’t want it they shouldn’t get drunk around a bunch of guys.

  4. 4.

    Ever wondered what happens if a guy doesn’t pay a prostitute? I have, I’m pretty sure they call it shoplifting. She can’t be raped if she’s a whore; it’s property damage.

  5. 5.

    Here’s what bitches do. They go out, have a few drinks, get laid because they are sluts and if the boyfriend finds out they know they’re gonna be in deep shit so off they go to the police station to file for rape.

  6. 6.

    There is no use in looking at a woman’s face when all you need is a piece of grade A meat.

Appendix 2: Assertiveness Skills Stimuli

  1. 1.

    It’s a Tuesday night, you’re in your dorm getting ready for bed because you have a midterm in the morning. Just as you crawl into bed and close your eyes, you hear someone start blaring their music. You try to sleep anyway, but finally decide to ask them to turn it down.

  2. 2.

    All your previous laptops have been Macs but you decide you want to try a PC. You go to Best Buy and pick one out. Less than a week later, while typing a paper, it crashes. Deciding to return to a Mac, you go back to Best Buy to ask for a refund.

  3. 3.

    You’re at dinner with your friends telling a story about what happened to you this weekend; another friend interrupts and begins sharing their own story.

  4. 4.

    You let a friend borrow your favorite T-shirt 2 weeks ago and they still have not returned it.

  5. 5.

    After getting back a test with some essay questions on it, you find out that your professor gave full credit to another student who had the same answer as you, but you only received partial credit.

  6. 6.

    For the past four nights, your roommate’s significant other has been sleeping in your room. You and your roommate agreed that it was okay on the weekends, but not during the week. Now every time you’re in your room, they are there too. You don’t want to be rude, but it’s becoming a problem.

  7. 7.

    You’re at the mall with your friends when an annoying salesperson continues to harasses you to buy a smoke-free electric cigarette.

  8. 8.

    You’re at a party when a friend offers you alcohol. Even after you respectfully decline the offer, they continue.

  9. 9.

    You have been talking to a classmate pretty frequently and you think that the two of you have some chemistry. You finally get up the courage to ask this person out.

  10. 10.

    You finally get a night off and decide to go to a movie that you’ve been wanting to see. The theater is really crowded so you are forced to sit next to a stranger. Halfway through the movie they start to text and it’s very distracting. Thinking they will stop soon, you decide to wait patiently, but they don’t.

  11. 11.

    Someone you know is taking the same class as you, but in a different section. You have a test today, and since you’re in the earlier section, your friend wants you to tell them what’s on the test. You know this could get you both in trouble, and you don’t really feel comfortable cheating.

  12. 12.

    You have a part-time job off campus. You’ve been working there for almost 2 years, and you’ve never asked for a pay raise. Because school tuition is now increasing, you could really use the extra money, so you decide to approach your boss and ask for a pay increase.

  13. 13.

    You’re assigned a group project in one of your major classes that counts for a large percentage of your final grade. Your group has met four times already, but one of the group members is slacking off. If they bother to show up at all, they’re coming late and leaving early. The group decides you should be the one to confront this person.

  14. 14.

    It’s Friday night, and you’re at a party at your friend’s house. A slightly intoxicated person walks over and tries to kiss you. You’re currently in a committed relationship that you don’t want to jeopardize.

  15. 15.

    Your friend has invited you to a party, and you’ve agreed to go even though you won’t know anyone else there. As soon as you arrive, your friend walks away to talk to someone else, leaving you by yourself. You decide to approach someone to try and make conversation.

  16. 16.

    While waiting by the fountain for a friend, you see someone point at a passing African American student and call them the ‘N’ word. You are extremely bothered by this, and although you’re usually not confrontational, you decide to take a stand and approach the person.

  17. 17.

    Some friends you know are starting a petition to keep a certain professor from being fired. They’ve asked you to sign it, but you don’t think this professor deserves to stay at the university.

  18. 18.

    You ordered a steak at a restaurant, and when the server brought it to you it seemed fine. After a few bites, you realize that the center is completely undercooked. You want it cooked just a little more.

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Kilmartin, C., Semelsberger, R., Dye, S. et al. A Behavior Intervention to Reduce Sexism in College Men. Gend. Issues 32, 97–110 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-014-9130-1

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Keywords

  • Sexism
  • Rape supportive attitudes
  • Behavior intervention