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  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 up men and women 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. Finally, our latest research is revealing how sexist attitudes affect broader family dynamics, such as the way both men and women parent their children, along with how parents’ sexist attitudes affect children’s emotional and social development.

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Relevant Publications:

Overall, N.C., Cross, E.J., Low, S.T., McRae, C.S., Henderson, A.M.E., & Chang, V.T. (online advance). Fathers’ and mothers’ sexism predict less responsive parenting behavior during family interactions. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Waddell, N., & Overall. N.C. (2023). Bias, accuracy, and assumed similarity in judging intimate partners’ sexist attitudes. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 40(2), 506–527. doi/10.1177/02654075221118546

Harrington, A.G., Overall, N.C., & Maxwell, J.A. (2022). Feminine gender role discrepancy strain and women’s self-esteem in daily and weekly life: A person x context perspective. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 87, 35-51.

Osborne, D., Huang, Y., Overall, N.C., Sutton, R., Petterson, A., Douglas, K., Davies, P.G., & Sibley, C.G. (2022). Abortion attitudes: An overview of demographic and ideological differences. Advances in Political Psychology, 43 (S1), 29-76.

Overall, N.C., Maner, J.K., Hammond, M.D., Cross, E.J., Chang, V.T., Low, R.S.T., Girme, Y.U., Jayamaha, S.D., Reid, C.J., & Sasaki, E. (2023). Actor and partner power are distinct and have differential effects on social behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 124(2), 311–343.

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.

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.

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.

Overall, N.C., Chang, V.T., Cross, E.J., Low, S.T., & Henderson, A.M.E. (2021). Sexist attitudes predict family-based aggression during a COVID-19 lockdown. Journal of Family Psychology, 35, 1043-1052.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. Download PDF