Boys Don’t Work? On the Psychological Benefits of Showing Low Effort in High School

Boys Don’t Work? On the Psychological Benefits of Showing Low Effort in High School Male students show less academic effort and lower academic achievement than do female students. The present study aimed to shed more light on the reasons for why male students show low academic effort despite the finding that this undermines their academic achievement. We explored whether students experience psychological benefits from showing low effort or “effortless” achievement in school and whether these benefits are greater for male than for female students. In two experimental vignette studies with independent samples of German ninth graders (N = 210) and teachers (N = 176), we systematically varied student targets’ gender, effort, and achievement and tested for effects on targets’ ascribed intelligence, popularity, likeability, masculinity, femininity, and gender-typicality. The “effortless” achiever was rated as more popular than students showing high effort. Teachers perceived the effortless achiever as the most intelligent target. Academic effort further increased students’ ratings of a low-achieving target’s likeability and students’ and teachers’ ratings of all targets’ femininity as well as decreased students’ ratings of all targets’ masculinity. Students and teachers perceived targets showing low (vs. high) effort as more similar to a typical boy, whereas teachers perceived targets showing high (vs. low) effort as more similar to a typical girl. Results indicate a need to understand the psychological benefits of low academic engagement, especially for male students, and to address the feminine stereotyping of (academic) effort. Sex Roles Springer Journals

Boys Don’t Work? On the Psychological Benefits of Showing Low Effort in High School

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Springer US
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
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