Effects of induced success/failure and attributions on the problem-solving behavior of psychologically androgynous and feminine women


  • Requests for reprints should be addressed to Renate L. Welch, Department of Psychology, Fraser Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045.


The aim of the present study was to examine the relation between masculinity and femininity in women and their responses to induced success or failure. Also experimentally manipulated were the subjects' performance attributions. Psychologically androgynous and feminine women either succeeded or failed at a concept formation task and were provided with internal, external, or no causal attributions for their performance. Then a second concept formation task was administered. The attribution manipulation failed to affect task performance and was not involved in any interactions. For feminine subjects, failure increased the trials necessary to reach criterion on the second task, whereas success had no effect. In contrast, the performance of androgynous subjects was unaffected by failure but facilitated by success. Finally, whereas androgynous subjects attributed success primarily to their ability and failure to task difficulty, feminine subjects attributed success and failure about equally to these two factors. It was suggested that androgynous women's use of the “egotistical” pattern of performance attributions gives them an advantage over feminine women with respect to the maintenance of self-esteem.