Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Diane Martichuski

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of short-fiction on college-aged men and women’s attitudes about gender roles. A total of 130 participants ranged from eighteen to 26 years of age, 56 of them male and 74 of them female. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three reading conditions: consistent, inconsistent, or control; each condition contained content either consistent with, inconsistent with, or unrelated to traditional, Western- societal gender roles. Subjects’ attitudes were measured via the Gender Attitude Inventory (GAI), produced by Ashmore, Del Boca, and Bilder (1995), the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ), created by Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp (1973), and the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), fashioned by Bem (1971). Results indicated a significant main effect for gender on eight out of eighteen analyses, where males displayed less support for non-traditional female gender roles and equality. Participants who read the inconsistent story demonstrated less support for traditional gender roles. There was a near significant interaction between gender and story condition on the GAI chivalry subscale; women who read the inconsistent story were more likely to support female independence (and not male chivalry) compared to the other groups. Interestingly, women who read the consistent story were more supportive of female sexual initiative than women who read the inconsistent story, and subjects who read the consistent story were more likely to support women as leaders compared to people who read the inconsistent story. Important implications of the study include the fact that dominant cultural scripts are reinforced by and reinforce the institution of heterosexuality and that women may have a desire of their own in the future if hegemonic societal institutions are changed by individual citizens.

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