THE EFFECT OF SEX STEREOTYPES ON THE CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES
Sex bias against women has been demonstrated in studies of achievement-related attributions. Previous research in this area was restricted to the sex of performer variable. The present study manipulated the personality traits of the performer (masculine, feminine) to further clarify conditions of attributional sex biases. Another purpose of the study was to test the prediction by attribution theory that expected outcomes are attributed to stable causes and unexpected outcomes to unstable causes. Four independent variables were manipulated in a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 between-subjects design: sex of subject, sex of performer, performer traits, and sex-association of task. In two separate experiments for success and failure, 372 male and 348 female undergraduates rated the outcome on ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck. Data were analyzed by a series of multivariate analyses of variance, followed by univariate F-tests and Duncan's Multiple Range post hoc tests. The overall analysis showed strong main effects for the task variable. For success, greater ability, effort, and luck was attributed to the masculine than the feminine task. A significant interaction between traits and task for ability suggested a positive bias for masculine traits. For failure, lack of ability was rated as more relevant when the task was masculine but lack of effort when the task was feminine. In addition, female subjects viewed performers with feminine traits as failing more often because of task difficulty than their masculine counterparts. To test the predicted expectancy-stability link, traits and tasks were grouped into High and Low Expectancy Outcome groups. A 2 x 2 x 2 MANOVA found only partial support for the hypotheses. Success by the High Expectancy group was attributed more often to the stable cause of ability than that by the Low Expectancy group. No statistical differences were obtained for failure. To test hypotheses generated by the data, traits and tasks were regrouped into four groups. A 2 x 2 x 4 MANOVA yielded additional information for each experiment. From the results, it was concluded that sex biases in causal attributions continue to exist. The significant findings and their implications were discussed and suggestions for future research were made.
ELKE MARIA KURPIERS,
"THE EFFECT OF SEX STEREOTYPES ON THE CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES"
(January 1, 1985).
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