• Corinne A. Moss-Racusin and Laurie A. Rudman, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University.

  • This research was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to the first author, and NSF grant BCS-0443342 awarded to the second author.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, Department of Psychology, 53 Avenue E, Tillett Hall, Department of Psychology, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8040. E-mail: cmossrac@eden.rutgers.edu


Women experience social and economic penalties (i.e., backlash) for self-promotion, a behavior that violates female gender stereotypes yet is necessary for professional success. However, it is unknown whether and how the threat of backlash interferes with women's ability to self-promote. The present research examined the effects of fear of backlash and self-regulatory mode on women's self-promotion success by testing the backlash avoidance model (BAM), a model designed to account for disruptions in women's self-promotion. Two studies employing U.S. undergraduate samples examined self-promotion both in a live interview and written context. Results supported the BAM's predictions that self-promoting women's fear of backlash inhibits activation of a goal-focused, locomotive regulatory mode, which subsequently interferes with self-promotion success. This process was not evident for self-promoting men (Study 1) or peer-promoting women (Study 2), groups who demonstrated reliably more promotion success than self-promoting women. The influence of women's endorsement of communal stereotypes and their perceived entitlement were also investigated. Implications for women's self-promotion, gender stereotyping, and workplace parity are discussed.