ROLLING WITH THE CHANGES: A ROLE CONGRUITY PERSPECTIVE ON GENDER NORMS

Authors


  • Amanda B. Diekman, Department of Psychology, Miami University; Wind Goodfriend, Department of Psychology, Boise State University.

  • Wind Goodfriend is now at the Department of Psychology, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, IA.

  • We thank Megan Bezy, Sara Dieterich, Amber Merlau, Annie Heiliger, Emily Kistler, Katie Lamere, Jacinda Moore, Jenny Schinke, Kari Terzino, Allison Truax, and Dawn Marie White for their help in conducting this research and Alice Eagly, Amber Garcia, Ann Hoover, Kurt Hugenberg, Janice Kelly, Mary Johannesen-Schmidt, Jennifer Spoor, and Michael Schmitt for their comments on a draft of this manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Amanda Diekman, Miami University, Department of Psychology, Oxford, OH 45056. E-mail: diekmaa@muohio.edu

Abstract

Role congruity theory (e.g., Eagly & Diekman, 2005) posits that a group will be positively evaluated when its characteristics are perceived to align with the requirements of the group's typical social roles. Social roles may thus form the basis of norms that prescribe valued behavior for men and women. Three experiments explored the relationship between perceived social roles and the prescriptive content of gender stereotypes by examining perceptions of cross-temporal role change. In the first study, participants evaluated the gender-stereotypic traits of past, present, and future men and women. In the second study, participants evaluated descriptions of consensually perceived trends for men and women. In the third study, participants read experimentally manipulated descriptions of role changes in a novel society and evaluated the traits of future citizens. Perceptions of cross-temporal changes in social roles (whether naturally occurring or experimentally manipulated) were associated with differential valuing of role-congruent characteristics. In general, participants' responses reflected a pattern of anticipated accommodation to shifts in social roles, with greater value projected for characteristics that facilitate role success.

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