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Title: The Threatened Become the Threat: Gender Hierarchy Maintenance and Its Surprising Links to Control Over Women’s Reproductive Rights
Authors: Callaghan, Delaney
Advisors: Fiske, Susan T
Department: Psychology
Certificate Program: Global Health and Health Policy Program
Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
Class Year: 2023
Abstract: Facing status threats, people desire to maintain their place on any hierarchy, reclaiming control from lower-status individuals and groups. Previous literature describes men’s backlash to gender threats to hierarchy and roles and elucidates how hostile and benevolent sexism predicts opposition to women’s bodily autonomy. However, prior research fails to investigate the relationship between status threats and control over women’s reproductive rights. This is a plausible connection because abolishing abortion is the ultimate demonstration of patriarchal and hierarchical control. This paper hypothesizes that when men face a threat to their place on the gender hierarchy, they are compelled to maintain their high-status position and, therefore, will oppose women’s control over their bodies. Additionally, this paper hypothesizes that men who are high on hostile or benevolent sexism will oppose abortion the most because they work to perpetuate traditional gender roles and the patriarchy. A study primed participants (n = 801) with threats to the gender hierarchy and traditional gender roles and then assessed participants’ personal opinions on abortion with an original scale. A follow-up study primed participants (n = 522) with a threat to the gender hierarchy or an affirmation of the hierarchy and assessed abortion views. Analyses revealed several key findings: Participants who experienced a threat to the hierarchy supported abortion the most; however, this was not replicated in the follow-study, possibly indicating that the manipulation was too blatant. Across both studies, the most sexist participants opposed abortion the most. This research could have implications for future research on gender status threats and their influence on men’s abortion support or opposition.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2023
Global Health and Health Policy Program, 2017-2023

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