Communal expectations conflict with autonomy motives: The western drive for autonomy shapes women's negative responses to positive gender stereotypes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Western culture idealizes an autonomous self-a self that strives for independence and freedom from the influence and control of others. We explored how the value placed on autonomy in Western culture intersects with the normative trait expectations experienced by men and women. While trait expectations placed on men (i.e., to be confident and assertive) affirm an autonomous sense of self, trait expectations placed on women (i.e., to be caring and understanding) conflict with an autonomous sense of self. We theorized that this conflict contributes to women's resentment toward positive gender stereotypes that emphasize women's interdependent qualities. Six preregistered studies (N = 2,094) demonstrated that U.S. women experienced more anger in response to positive-gendered trait expectations and less motivation to comply with them compared to U.S. men. We found that these effects were partially attributable to stereotypically feminine communal expectations affirming autonomy less than stereotypically masculine agentic expectations. Cross-cultural comparisons between the U.S. (a Western context) and India (a non-Western context) further indicated that the conflict between communal expectations placed on women and Western prioritization of autonomy contributes to U.S. women's anger toward positive gender stereotypes: Although traits expected of women in both the U.S. and India oriented women away from feeling autonomous more than traits expected of men, this diminished sense of being autonomous only elicited anger in a U.S. context. For Western societies, findings illuminate the uniquely frustrating nature of stereotyped expectations that demand interdependence and thus the unequal psychological burden placed on those who must contend with them. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Proudfoot, D; Kay, AC

Published Date

  • January 2023

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 124 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 21

PubMed ID

  • 35446081

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1315

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/pspa0000311


  • eng