A Mind of Her Own : Effects of Need for
Closure an d Gender on Reaction s to
Kath leen T. Doh erty
G ettysburg College
Research on opin ion devian ce suggests that con formity and agreement with
the establish ed m ajority is gen erally valu ed in groups. Th e presen t stu dy
exam in es how motivation s for cognitive closu re may influence reactions to
co n form in g a n d d ev ia tin g m em bers b ased on accessib le gen d er ro le
expectations. Caucasian males an d females participated in a group discu ssion
with confederates who either con formed or deviated from the majority opinion.
Results showed that group m embers motivated to reach cognitive closu re
negatively evaluated fem ale opinion devian ts relative to conformists. However,
contrary to previou s research findings, they did not derogate m ale deviants.
Motivation to avoid closure led to different evaluative patterns by male and
female evaluators. In addition to importantly m odifyin g results obtain ed by
Kruglanski and Webster (1991) regarding closure motivation and conform ity
versus devian ce, the current results are also in formative regardin g gender role
expectations and in tra-group interaction s. Limitations an d implications of these
results are also discu ssed.
Many inve stigators have e xamine d the conditions unde r which groups posi-
tive ly or ne gatively evaluate the ir members (Ge is, Boston, & Hoffman,
Sex Roles, Vol. 38, No s. 9/10, 1998
0360-0025 /98/050 0-0801$ 15.0 0/0
1998 Plenum Publishing Corporati on
This research was con ducted at the University of Maryland at College Park as part of the
requirement for the doctoral dissertation. I would like to thank Arie Kruglanski for his
feedback and guidance; H. P. and B. Wilson for their fo resight and wisdom; Clara Hill,
Debbie Rosenfelt, Jan et Morgan Riggs, Hal Sigall, Charle s Stangor, and two anonymo us
reviewers for their fee dback and sugge stions on earlie r versions of this article; and Susie
Gre enhut, Je ff Mass, Gil Me gan, Alexandra Raneiri, Geoffre y Steinberg, and Dawn St. Clair
for th ei r hours of practice and patience as confederates.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Psychology De partme nt, Ge ttysburg Col-
lege , Ge ttysburg, PA 17325.