Gender Stereotype-Inconsistent Acts Are Seen as More Acceptable Than Stereotype-Consistent Acts, if They Are Clever

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Four studies show that gender stereotype-inconsistent behavior is seen as more acceptable than gender stereotype-consistent behavior, if it is clever. Four studies found consistently that participants rated the behavior of a man who relied on attractiveness or passiveness (stereotypically female) to be more acceptable than similar behavior by a woman. The behavior of a woman who relied on dominance or aggressiveness (stereotypically male) was sometimes seen as more (Study 1A) and sometimes equally (Study 1B, Study 2, Study 3) acceptable as the behavior of a man who acted similarly. This shows that double standards might play a role: Whereas men are benefited by gender stereotype-inconsistent behavior, this is not the case for women. Across studies, these effects were driven by the interpretation of the gender stereotype-inconsistent acts as more clever and less trashy than gender stereotype-consistent acts. These results qualify the idea that people dislike stereotype-inconsistency.

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