How Threats to Masculinity Sequentially Cause Public Discomfort, Anger, and Ideological Dominance Over Women

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Abstract

This research examined whether threats to masculinity both inspired men’s efforts to reestablish their power over women via the promotion of ideologies that implicitly subordinate women and occurred when men were outperformed by women in masculine domains. Masculinity was threatened by telling men they scored like women on a gender knowledge test (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), which sequentially led to more concern about how they were perceived by others, increased anger, and the increased endorsement of social dominance orientation (Study 1a) and benevolent sexism (Study 1b). Study 2 additionally shows that men experienced threats to masculinity when outperformed by women in masculine domains; when outperformed by a woman, men reported more concern about how they looked to others, which predicted increased anger and the subsequent sexualization of the woman. The findings link masculinity threats to the promotion of ideologies that implicitly subordinate women; the consequences of these linkages are discussed.

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