Skip to main content

Who's in Charge? Effects of Situational Roles on Automatic Gender Bias

Abstract

Sixty European American male and female participants' implicit gender-related attitudes were assessed prior to engaging in a cross-gender dyadic interaction, according to one of three situational roles (superior, subordinate, or equal-status partner). Results revealed that the social roles affected male participants' gender attitudes. Specifically, male participants who anticipated an interaction with a female superior revealed negatively biased evaluative attitudes about women. By contrast, males who expected to interact with a female equal-status partner or subordinate revealed attitudes that were biased in favor of women. This finding highlights the importance of situational factors in the generation of implicit attitudes regarding social groups. Specifically, the present data point to the influence of situational status on males' attitudes regarding women. Implications of this work for integration and diversity initiatives are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  1. Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Banaji, M. R. (1999, October). Implicit preferences. Invited address delivered at the 1999 meeting of the New England Social Psychological Association, Hanover, NH.

  3. Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (1995). Implicit gender stereotyping in judgments of fame. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 181–198.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Banaji, M. R., & Hardin, C. (1996). Automatic gender stereotyping. Psychological Science, 7, 136–141.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bargh, J. A., Chaiken, S., Govender, R., & Pratto, F. (1992). The generality of the automatic attitude activation effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 893–912.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotyping activation on action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 230–244.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Blair, I.V., Ma, J. E., & Lenton, A. P. (in press). Imagining stereotypes away: The moderation of implicit stereotypes through mental imagery. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

  8. Blalock, H. (1967). Toward a theory of minority relations. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Blumer, H. (1998). Race prejudice as a sense of group position. In M. W. Hughey (Ed.), New tribalisms: The resurgence of race and ethnicity (pp. 31–40). NewYork: NewYork University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bobo, L. (1998). Race, interests, and beliefs about affirmative action: Unanswered questions and new directions. American Behavioral Scientist, 41, 985–1003.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Brass, D. L. (1985). Men and women's networks: A study of interaction patterns and influence in an organization. Academy of Management Journal, 28, 327–343.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Carpenter, S., & Banaji, M. R. (1998, April). Implicit attitudes and behavior toward female leaders. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

  13. Carpenter, S., & Banaji, M. R. (1999, April). Implicit attitudes toward female leaders. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association. Catalyst. (1996). The 1996 Catalyst census of the women board of directors of the Fortune 500. New York: Catalyst.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Conway, M., & Vartanian, L. R. (2000). A status account of gender stereotypes: Beyond communality and agency. Sex Roles, 43, 181–199.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Dasgupta, N., McGhee, D. E., Greenwald, A.G., & Banaji, M. R. (2000). Automatic preference for White Americans: Eliminating the familiarity explanation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 316–328.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5–18.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., Johnson, C., Johnson, B., & Howard, A. (1997). On the nature of prejudice:Automatic and controlled processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 510–540.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Eagly, A. H., Makhijani, M. G., & Klonsky, B. G. (1992). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 3–22.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Eagly, A. H., & Mladinic, A. (1989). Gender stereotypes and attitudes toward women and men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 15, 543–558.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Fazio, R. H., Jackson, J. R., Dunton, B. C., & Williams, C. J. (1995). Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1013–1027.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through negative evaluations of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 31–44.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fiske, S. T. (1998). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In D. T. Gilbert & S. T. Fiske (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 357–411). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association task. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Hewstone, M., Johnston, L., & Aird, P. (1992). Cognitive models of stereotype change: II. Perceptions of homogeneous an heterogeneous groups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 22, 235–249.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Inman, M. L., & Baron, R. S. (1996). The influence of prototypes on perceptions of prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 727–739.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Jost, J., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33,1–27.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kanter, R. M. (1977). Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Kanter, R. M. (1993). Men and women: Equal partners? Executive Excellence, 10, 8–10.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Kunda, Z., & Oleson, K. C. (1995). Maintaining stereotypes in the face of disconfirmation: Constructing grounds for subtyping deviants. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 565–579.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Kunda, Z., & Sinclair, L. (1999). Motivated reasoning with stereotypes: Activation, application, and inhibition. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 12–22.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lowery, B. S., Hardin, C. D., & Sinclair, S. S. (in press). Social tuning effects on automatic racial prejudice. Social influence effects on automatic racial prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

  33. Mehra, A., Kilduff, M., & Brass, D. J. (1998). At the margins: A distinctiveness approach to the social identity and social networks of underrepresented groups. Academy of Management Journal, 41, 441–456.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Ottaway, S. A., Hayden, D. C., & Oakes, M. A. (in press). Implicit attitudes and racism: The effect of word familiarity and frequency in the Implicit Association Test. Social Cognition.

  35. Richeson, J. A., & Ambady, N. (in press). When roles reverse: Stigma, status, and self-evaluation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

  36. Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. L. (1991). Essentials of behavioral research (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Rudman, L. A. (1998). Self-promotion as a risk factor for women: The costs and benefits of counterstereotypical impression management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 629–645.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (in press). Prescriptive gender stereotypes and backlash toward agentic women. Journal of Social Issues.

  39. Rudman, L. A., & Kilianski, S. E. (2000). Implicit and explicit attitudes toward female authority. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1315–1328.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1993). The inevitability of oppression and the dynamics of social dominance. In P. Sniderman & P. Tetlock (Eds.), Prejudice, politics, and the American dilemma ( pp. 173–211). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Tsui, A. S., Egan, T. D., & O'Reilly, C. A. (1992). Being different: Relational demography and organizational attachment. Administrative Science Quarterly, 37, 549–579.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Wilson, T. D., Lindsey, A., & Schooler, T. Y. (1999). A model of dual attitudes. Psychological Review, 107, 101–126.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Yoder, J. D. (1991). Rethinking tokenism: Looking beyond numbers. Gender and Society, 5, 178–192.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jennifer A. Richeson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Richeson, J.A., Ambady, N. Who's in Charge? Effects of Situational Roles on Automatic Gender Bias. Sex Roles 44, 493–512 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012242123824

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Group
  • Female Participant
  • Social Role
  • Male Participant