Categorization and the Favorability of Attitudes Toward Women


  • Preparation of this paper was facilitated by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship to the first author. The research on which this paper is based was supported by a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Victoria M. Esses and Mark P. Zanna.

  • We are grateful to Alice Eagly, Victoria Esses, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. In addition, we wish to thank the Ontario Science Centre for their cooperation in conducting Study 4 and Penny Hiller for her assistance in various phases of this research.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Geoffrey Haddock, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ont., N2L 3G1.


Four studies are described outlining the favorability of attitudes toward women. In Study 1, participants indicated their attitudes toward women and men and their construal of the term “women”. The results revealed that women were evaluated more favorably than men, but that male right-wing authoritarians (RWAs) who construed women as referring primarily to feminists were least favorable in their attitudes. In Study 2, participants indicated their attitudes toward both “housewives” and “feminists”. The results revealed that feminists were evaluated less favorably than housewives, and that the most negative attitudes toward feminists were expressed by authoritarian men. Study 3 revealed that high-RWA males held more negative symbolic beliefs concerning feminists (i.e., beliefs that feminists failed to promote participants’values) and that these beliefs accounted for variation in attitudes among high RWAs and much of the RWA-attitude relation. Finally, Study 4 revealed that high RWAs perceived greater value dissimilarity between them-selves and feminists. The implications of the findings for future research are discussed.