Gender Roles in Social Psychology Essay Sample

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Both the classical and contemporary experiments explore the ways in which the personal and situational aspects of gender roles can affect peoples’ attitudes about how they view themselves within their gender and their perception of their own futures as women. Both support the theories that implicit stereotype models have a profound effect on the person. The Geis experiment dealt with the relationship of gender to constant exposure to advertising. This study hypothesized that the typical cultural depiction of women being subservient to men and their striving only to please men in order to obtain contentment, has led to a society in which women would have depressed career aspirations relative to those who had not been exposed to this cultural message.

A dual process model is apparent, as the advertisements contained an explicit, obvious message that sells the product as well as a more implicit and passive message that women strive to please men instead of themselves. When these roles were reversed career aspirations went up significantly, showing that this latent message indeed affected women. This can be seen as behavioral confirmation. The women used personal and controlled cognitive processes to imagine their futures, but the automatic processes experienced in the priming heavily influenced them as well. Because the advertisements can influence women into believing a stereotype in which they are primarily homemakers who service men through domestic and sexual roles, this is confirmed by women in the form of lowered achievement ambitions, which creates a self fulfilling prophecy that adheres to expectations.

The Rudman and Phelan experiment continues in the same tradition as the Geis experiment. They hypothesized that the same social messages would lead to less ambitions of obtaining power and status, but this study differed in that it also looked into the effect that powerful career role models had on women. While the findings of the classic study were confirmed, a new effect was also observed. When comparing themselves to women who had achieved high status jobs, they were also less likely to identify with career ambitions than the control group which showed a positive correlation to a self concept of empowerment and masculine jobs.

The experimental group, however, was negatively correlated in both typical and atypical roles. Those with empowered self concept may have felt their efforts would be more advantageous in female dominated roles when primed with the typical stereotype. This self-concept of leadership was diminished when primed with the atypical and extreme depictions of career women. This shows a threat to women from both sides, gender stereotypes and upwards self comparison processes. deceptive testing that lessens the upward social comparison problem leads me to believe that the belief that the individual can’t obtain a status such as chief of surgery that may lower these ambitions, and that the effect could perhaps be lessened if the women were primed with more realistic examples of empowerment.

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