Sexist Attitudes and Close Relationships

cropped-shutterstock_188030168.jpgAnother one of our research programs examines how beliefs about men and women shape the way people respond in intimate relationships and the consequences that ensue. Our research has shown how sexist attitudes influence partner preferences, shape reactions to conflict and dissatisfaction and affect the delivery of support in relationship interactions. Not surprisingly, hostile attitudes toward women tend to produce aggressive relationship perceptions and behaviour that undermine relationship satisfaction. However, beliefs that men should ‘protect and provide’ for women have a mix of contradictory effects on relationships. On the one hand, men that endorse these ideals behave with more caring and positivity toward their partners, which enhances relationship satisfaction for both men and women. On the other hand, these kinds of relationship beliefs set men and women up for greater dissatisfaction if relationships don’t live up to the romantic picture these attitudes promise.

Our research also demonstrates that examining the impact of sexist attitudes within intimate relationships is crucial to understanding how sexist ideologies maintain gender inequality by promoting women’s endorsement of sexist attitudes and increasing women’s dependence on relationships. 

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Relevant Publications:

Overall, N.C., Chang, V.T., Cross, E.J., Low, S.T., & Henderson, A.M.E. (online advance). Sexist attitudes predict family-based aggression during a COVID-19 lockdown. Journal of Family Psychology. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000834

Brownhalls, J., Duffy, A., Eriksson, L., Overall, N.C., Sibley, C.G., Radke, H., & Barlow, F.K. (2021). Make it safe at night or teach women to fight? An investigation of sexism and gender specific interventions targeting men’s violence toward women. Sex Roles, 84, 183-195. doi.org/10.1007/s11199-020-01159-5

Harrington, A.G. & Overall, N.C. (2021). Romantic rejection and women’s body dissatisfaction: The moderating role of attractiveness contingent self-esteem. Body Image, 39, 77-89. doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.06.004

Harrington, A.G., Overall, N.C., & Cross, E.J. (2021). Masculine gender role stress, low relationship power, and aggression toward intimate partners. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 22, 48-62. doi.org/10.1037/men0000262

Pietromonaco, P.R., Overall, N.C., Beck, L.A., & Powers, S.I. (2021). Is low power associated with submission during marital conflict? Moderating roles of gender and traditional gender role beliefs. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 165-175. doi.org/10.1177/1948550620904609

Waddell, N., Overall, N.C., Chang, V.T., & Hammond, M.D. (2021). Gendered Division of Labour during a Nationwide COVID-19 Lockdown: Implications for Relationship Problems and Satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38, 1759-1781. Special Issue: Relationships in the time of COVID 19. doi.org/10.1177/0265407521996476

Hammond, M.D., Cross, E.J., & Overall, N.C. (2020). Sexist attitudes and intimate relationships: Relationship (in)security is central to the sources and outcomes of sexism. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 14, e12522. doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12522

Hammond, M.D. & Overall, N.C. (2020). Men’s hostile sexism and biased perceptions of partners’ support: Underestimating dependability rather than overestimating challenges to dominance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46, 1491-1506. doi.org/10.1177/0146167220907475

Cross, E.J., Overall, N.C., Low, R.S.T., & McNulty, J.K. (2019). Men’s hostile sexism, biased perceptions of low power, and aggression toward intimate partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117, 338-363. doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000167

Cross, E.J., & Overall, N.C. (2019). Women experience more serious relationship problems when male partners endorse hostile sexism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 1022-1041. doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2560

Juarros-Basterretxea, J., Overall, N.C., Herrero, J.H., & Rodríguez-Díaz, F.J. (2019). Considering the effect of sexism on psychological intimate partner violence: A study with imprisoned men. European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 11, 61-69. doi.org/10.5093/ejpalc2019a1

Overall, N.C. & Hammond, M.D. (2018). How intimate relationships contribute to gender inequality: Sexist attitudes encourage women to trade-off career success for relationship security. Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 5, 40-48. doi.org/10.1177/2372732217745096

Cross, E.J., & Overall, N.C. (2018). Women’s attraction to benevolent sexism: Needing relationship security predicts greater attraction to men who endorse benevolent sexism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 336-347. doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2334

Hammond, M.D. & Overall, N.C. (2017). Intimate relationship dynamics reveal important causes, consequences and functions of sexist attitudes. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 120-125. doi.org/10.1177/0963721416686213

Hammond M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2017). Sexism in interpersonal contexts. In Sibley, C. G., & Barlow, F. K. (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Psychology of Prejudice (pp. 321-344).  Cambridge University Press.

Cross, E.J., Overall, N.C., Hammond, M.D., & Fletcher, G.J.O. (2017). When does men’s hostile sexism predict relationship aggression? The moderating role of partner commitment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 331-340. doi.org/10.1177/1948550616672000

Overall, N.C., Hammond, M.D., McNulty, J.K., & Finkel, E.J. (2016). Power in context: Relationship and situational power interact to predict men’s aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111, 195-217. doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000059

Cross, E.J., Overall, N.C. & Hammond, M.D. (2016). Perceiving partners to endorse benevolent sexism attenuates highly anxious women’s negative reactions to conflict. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 923-940. doi.org/10.1177/0146167216647933

Hammond, M.D., Overall, N.C. & Cross, E.J. (2016). Internalizing sexism within close relationships: Perceptions of intimate partners’ benevolent sexism promote women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110, 214-238. doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000043

Hammond, M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2015). Benevolent sexism and support of romantic partner’s goals: Undermining women’s competence while fulfilling men’s intimacy needs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1180-1194. doi.org/10.1177/0146167215593492

Hammond, M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2014). Endorsing benevolent sexism magnifies willingness to dissolve relationships when facing partner-ideal discrepancies. Personal Relationships, 21(2), 272-287. doi.org/10.1111/pere.12031 Download PDF

Hammond, M.D., Sibley, C.G., & Overall, N.C. (2014). The allure of sexism: Narcissism fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 422-429. doi.org/10.1177/1948550613506124

Hammond, M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2013). Men’s hostile sexism and biased perceptions of intimate partners: Fostering dissatisfaction and negative behavior in close relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1585-1599. doi.org/10.1177/0146167213499026 Download PDF

Hammond, M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2013). When Relationships do not live up to Benevolent Ideals: Women’s Benevolent Sexism and Sensitivity to Relationship Problems. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 212-223. doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.1939 Download PDF

Overall, N.C., Sibley, C.G., & Tan, R. (2011). The costs and benefits of sexism: Resistance to influence during relationship conflict interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 271–290. doi.org/10.1037/a0022727 Download PDF

Sibley, C.G., & Overall, N.C. (2011). A dual-process motivational model of ambivalent sexism and gender differences in romantic partner preferences. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35, 303-317. doi.org/10.1177/0361684311401838

Sibley, C.G., Overall, N.C., & Duckitt, J., Perry, R., Milfont, T.L., Khan, S.S., Fischer, R., & Robertson, A. (2009). Your sexism predicts my sexism: Perceptions of men’s (but not women’s) sexism affects one’s own sexism over time. Sex Roles, 60, 682-693. doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9554-8 Download PDF

Travaglia, L.K., Overall, N.C., & Sibley, C.G. (2009). Hostile and benevolent sexism and preferences for romantic partners. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 599-604. doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2009.05.015 Download PDF

Sibley, C.G., Overall, N.C., & Duckitt, J. (2007). When women become more hostilely sexist toward their gender: The system-justifying effect of benevolent sexism. Sex Roles, 57, 743-754. doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9306-1 Download PDF