Who Likes Competent Women? Competence, Sex-Role Congruence of Interests, and Subjects' Attitudes Toward Women as Determinants of Interpersonal Attraction1


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    The research was supported by a grant from the University of Texas Research Institute to Janet T. Spence and by Office of Naval Research Contract N00014–67A–0126–0001, NR 171–804, Robert Helmreich, Principal Investigator. The investigators thank Corrinne Slemenda, who served as the stimulus person, and Robert Risher, who served as the interviewer in the videotapes. Thanks also are due to Joy Stapp, Stephen Freeman, David Hutton, Randy Strong, and John Wilhelm for their assistance in the data collection and analysis.


Men (N= 264) and women (N= 343) students were shown one of 4 videotape versions of a female stimulus person (SP) being interviewed. The SP portrayed a Competent or Incompetent individual who was Feminine or Masculine in her interests. The S s, who had previously been given an Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS, Spence & Helmreich, 1972) rated the SP on several characteristics, including likability. A 2 × 2 ANOVA indicated that women S s significantly preferred the Competent and the Masculine SPs. For men, the variables interacted significantly, the Masculine-Competent SP being liked most, the Masculine-Incompetent least, and the two Feminine SP s being intermediate and similar to each other. When S s' AWS scores (high, medium, or low) were included, complex interactions were found between AWS and experimental condition, especially in the male groups.