The double bind of dominance—that it can help to attain status but might jeopardize social relationships—was investigated by examining evaluations based on interpersonal skill (e.g., getting along well with others) and instrumental skill (e.g., accomplishing a task). Role congruity theory (Eagly and Diekman 2005; Eagly and Karau 2002) posits that behavior will be evaluated more positively when it is congruent with valued social roles. Two experiments were conducted to explore the importance of context in evaluations of dominance. In both experiments, dominance was more devalued in contexts related to interpersonal skill than in those related to instrumental skill. Experiment 1 demonstrated that the penalty for dominant behavior decreased when the target also displayed warmth, thereby affirming diffuse prosocial roles. Experiment 2 demonstrated that dominant behavior incurred greater penalties in communal versus agentic occupations. The results support a contextual, role-based explanation of evaluative processes.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 22, 2007
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