Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Oswald, Debra L.

Second Advisor

Franzoi, Stephen

Third Advisor

Siderits, Mary Anne


This paper examines the interaction between exposure to gender inequality and commonly-held sexist beliefs and effects on participants' emotional reactions and behavioral intentions to address that inequality. Male and female participants were exposed to gender disparities where women are disadvantaged or to a control condition and then primed with hostile or benevolent sexism. No difference existed in men's reports of guilt in response to gender inequality if offered a benevolently sexist justification. Women were more likely than men to report moral outrage, although the difference was larger when participants also considered female disadvantage. When reminded of both gender inequality and benevolent sexism, participants reported more program support than when exposed to benevolent sexism alone. Hostile sexism did not lead to changes in intended program support, regardless of exposure to inequality. Moral outrage was positively correlated with support for female- targeted programs, while guilt was not. This research clarifies the role that sexist justifications have in maintaining gender inequality by showing that benevolent sexism reduces male guilt and male and female support for programs promoting gender equality while hostile sexism does not. It also indicates that other-focused moral outrage is a stronger motivator to action than self-focused guilt.

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Psychology Commons