Male Allies and Gender Equity: Exploring the Explanatory Mechanisms
Trump, Rachel Christina Elizabeth
Doctor of Philosophy
This research examines three potential theories that might explain why men respond more favorably to men (than women) who advocate for women’s equal rights: Attributional Analysis of Persuasion (Petty, Fleming, Priester, & Feinstein, 2001; Priester & Petty, 1995), Status Characteristics (Berger, Cohen, & Zelditch, 1972; Ridgeway & Berger, 1986; Wagner & Berger, 1997), and Social Norm theories (Cialdini, Kallgren, & Reno, 1991). Using an experimental approach, 267 male participants read an article calling for gender equity written by either a male or female author and then indicated their a) attitudes towards women, b) attitudes towards the article, and c) behavioral intentions to act in gender equitable ways. To test potential mediating mechanisms, participants also indicated the extent to which they perceived the author had self-interest, the author had high status, the extant social norms, and their surprise at the author’s position. Consistent with our own past findings, the results showed that men (compared to women) were more influential when talking to other men about gender equity. More specifically, male participants indicated more gender equitable attitudes and more favorable attitudes about male (versus female) allies. No support, however, was shown for men expressing intentions to act in more gender equitable ways after interacting with a male versus female ally. The different article strategies did not show statistically significant differences; however, a pattern of results provide direction for future research. Surprise and lack of perceived self-interest both approached statistical significance as mediating mechanisms explaining the impact of the author of the gender on men’s attitudes toward gender equity and ratings of author favorability. That is, when men wrote articles about gender equity, other men viewed the author as less self-interested and more surprised by the author’s position, leading them to be more persuaded by the article to support gender equity. This explanation is most in line with the Attributional Analysis of Persuasion explanation or that of the unexpected communicator. Results are discussed in terms of needed future directions and implications for the display of ally behaviors.
allies, persuasion, gender equity