Different definitions of sexism have been usedby different experimenters and little attention has beengiven to the possibility that participants' definitionsof sexism might vary across individuals and across situations, just as the definitions ofinvestigators vary. Judgments about sexism areinextricably based on individual perceptions, values,and beliefs. It would seem reasonable, therefore toexamine individual conceptions of what constitutessexism. A total of 95 primarily middle-class Caucasianparticipants (68 females, 27 males) participated inthree studies investigating what information people use in deciding whether or not a male actor issexist. Six specific categories of information (or cues)were examined: (1) comments (or lack thereof) by theactor on a female target's physical appearance, (2) unwanted or inappropriate physical contact(or lack thereof), (3) assumptions (or lack thereof)about the target's work, personality, etc., based on hergender, (4) the target being interrupted (or not) by the actor, (5) an apparent powerdifferential (or lack thereof) between the actor and thetarget, and (6) assumptions by the actor aboutappropriate gender role behaviors. A policy capturingmethodology was employed in which three different sets ofscenarios, each describing a number of interactions(called profiles) between a target and an actor, werepresented to male and female participants who rated the degree of sexism exhibited by the actor ineach scenario. Policy capturing represents anideographic approach to research in which the primaryfocus is on establishing statistical parameter estimates that describe each individual's behavior in avariety of environmental situations. Only when that isaccomplished does the researcher examine the possiblenomothetic aggregations across participants. Thus many fewer participants are required than intraditional nomothetic approaches. Each profile set useda different subset of the cues which contained eithersubtle (Study 1), overt (Study 2), or very overt (Study 3)levels of the cues. Multipleregression analysis revealed that when relatively overtacts of sexism were described, most participants hadreliable policies; that is, their judgments werepredictable from the cues. However, when relatively subtleacts of sexism were described, most participants did nothave reliable policies; that is, their judgments werenot very predictable from the cues. There were large individual differences in howparticipants weighted the importance of various cues,especially with subtle cue levels, and in participants'mean sexism ratings.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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