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On the nature of sexist ambivalence: Profiling ambivalent and univalent sexists


  • Both authors contributed equally to this manuscript. This manuscript was written while the first author was on sabbatical at Philipps-Universität Marburg.


This study examined the proportion of people who held ambivalent versus univalent sexist attitudes, that is, those who simultaneously endorsed benevolent sexism (BS) and hostile sexism (HS). We examined this by capitalizing on recent innovations in latent class analysis to model latent types of sexists, or response profiles to BS and HS, in a nationally representative New Zealand sample (n = 6450). Our results show, for the first time, that by far, the most common pattern was for people to hold similar levels of BS and HS. Strongly ambivalent sexists, however, constituted only 8%–9% of the population. Most were classified as mild or moderate ambivalent sexists (28% and 44%, respectively). Univalent sexism was exceedingly rare, with between 2% and 5% of people solely endorsing HS but not BS, or BS but not HS. We validated the model by showing theoretically predicted differences across sexist types in demographics (gender, age), ideology (social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism), and relationship satisfaction. Strongly ambivalent sexists also held the highest levels of gender-specific system justification, invariant of gender. This provides novel evidence for the premise that strong sexist ambivalence promotes support for and faith in the patriarchical system. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.