Chivalry gender roles and sex stereotypes of agency and virtue
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Chivalry, Gender Roles, and Sex Stereotypes of Agency and Virtue. T. William Altermatt Bettina Johnson University of Michigan-Flint Rapp Collins Worldwide Dov Cohen University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Chivalry gender roles and sex stereotypes of agency and virtue

Chivalry, Gender Roles, and Sex Stereotypes of Agency and Virtue

T. William Altermatt Bettina Johnson

University of Michigan-Flint Rapp Collins Worldwide

Dov CohenUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

C. Nathan DeWall Emily LeskinenUniversity of Chicago St. Olaf College

Abstract Virtue

In Study 1, structural equation modeling of questionnaire responses (N = 201) revealed a significant positive relation between chivalry – a set of norms for the protection and provision of women by men – and sexist beliefs. However, this relation was completely mediated by the stereotype that women are less competent and powerful than men, suggesting that chivalry is related to sexist beliefs because it presumes that women are less competent and less suited to positions of authority.

In Study 2, participants evaluated three female subgroups previously found to differ in their perceived virtue and agency. Compared to low-chivalry participants, high-chivalry participants granted significantly more favorable ratings to "homemakers" (high-virtue, low-agency) and significantly less favorable ratings to "career women" (high-agency) and "sexually permissive women” (low-virtue). These results extend Study 1’s findings by suggesting that chivalrous men not only endorse the low-agency stereotype but also disapprove of women who violate this stereotype.

Study 1 chivalry and sexist beliefs
Study 1: Chivalry and Sexist Beliefs Virtue

  • Participants

    • 201 intro psych students at Univ. Illinois

    • 66% male, 82% white

    • Mean age was 19 years.

  • Materials

    • Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS)

    • Chivalry Scale

    • Hostile Sexism Scale (HSS)

    • Sex stereotypes about virtue and agency

The attitudes toward women scale spence helmreich stapp 1973 15 items a 84
The Attitudes Toward Women Scale Virtue(Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1973. 15 items, a = .84)

  • Women should worry less about their rights and more about becoming good wives and mothers.

  • The intellectual leadership of a community should be largely in the hands of men.

Chivalry Scale (Altermatt, 2001. 10 items, a = .87)

  • If there is a dangerous job to be done, it is better for a man to do it than a woman.

  • A man should remain standing until a woman takes her seat.

Hostile Sexism Scale (Glick & Fiske, 1996. 11 items, a = .88)

  • Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.

  • Women seek to gain power by getting control over men.

Moral virtue 4 items a 55
Moral virtue (4 items, Virtuea = .55)

  • Women have a finer moral sense than men do.

  • Men have more of an animal side than women do.

Sexual virtue (6 items, a = .67)

  • Women aren’t as interested in sex as men are.

  • Compared to men, women’s romantic feelings are less likely to include lust.

Agency (11 items, a = .92)

  • Men are better at handling power than women are.

  • Men are better leaders than women are.

  • Women should be more submissive than men.

Study 1 results
Study 1: Results Virtue

.03 (from .58*** without stereotypes)

Moral Virtue


Attitudes toward Women Scale








Sexual Virtue

-.03 (from .44*** without stereotypes)

CFI = .95, RMSEA = .067. ***p<.001, *p<.01. Paths from virtue to sexism, b<.13, p>.09.

Study 1 discussion
Study 1: Discussion Virtue

  • Participants who endorse chivalry are also likely to believe that women are more morally and sexually virtuous but less agentic (competent and powerful) than men.

  • The stereotype that women are less agentic than men explains both chivalry (women must be protected and provided for) and some sexist beliefs (women are not qualified for high-power positions).

Study 2 evaluating subgroups
Study 2: Evaluating Subgroups Virtue

  • Participants

    • N=185, 62% male, 85% white, mean age = 19

  • Materials & Procedure

    • Previous research (Clifton et al., 1976; Deaux, et al., 1985; Noseworthy & Lott, 1984; Six & Eckes, 1991) has identified three subgroups of the stereotype for women: career woman, homemaker, and “sex object” (labeled here as “sexually permissive women” to reduce ambiguity).

    • Participants were presented with subgroup labels and asked to evaluate members of each group:

      • Global feeling thermometer (1-100), possesses positive traits / negative traits, evokes pos./neg. emotional response.

      • Converted to z-scores and averaged (a = .82 to .89)

Study 2 male participants n 40
Study 2: Male Participants ( VirtueN = 40)

Chivalry x Subgroup, p < .004

Study 2 female participants n 43
Study 2: Female Participants ( VirtueN = 43)

Chivalry x Subgroup, p < .02

Study 2 test of contrast
Study 2: Test of Contrast Virtue

The pattern of high-chivalry participants rating homemakers higher than professional and sexually permissive women (and low-chivalry participants showing the opposite pattern) was tested using the contrast weights shown above. Contrasts were significant for both males and females, p < .01.

Discussion Virtue

  • Chivalrous individuals tend to believe that women are more virtuous than men but also less suited to positions of authority than men are.

  • This belief is related to an endorsement of traditional gender roles (AWS) and a belief that women are manipulative and untrustworthy (HSS).

  • Chivalry is related to approval of women high in virtue and low in agency (homemakers) and disapproval of women low in virtue or high in agency.