Self-Promotion as a Risk Factor for Women: The Costs and Benefits of Counterstereotypical Impression Management

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Abstract

Three experiments tested and extended recent theory regarding motivational influences on impression formation (S. T. Fiske & S. L. Neuberg, 1990; J. L. Hilton & J. M. Darley, 1991) in the context of an impression management dilemma that women face: Self-promotion may be instrumental for managing a competent impression, yet women who self-promote may suffer social reprisals for violating gender prescriptions to be modest. Experiment 1 investigated the influence of perceivers' goals on processes that inhibit stereotypical thinking, and reactions to counterstereotypical behavior. Experiments 2–3 extended these findings by including male targets. For female targets, self-promotion led to higher competence ratings but incurred social attraction and hireability costs unless perceivers were outcome-dependent males. For male targets, self-effacement decreased competence and hireability ratings, though its effects on social attraction were inconsistent.

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