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Gentleman or Cad? Perceptions of Men Who Pay for Dinner. T. William Altermatt University of Michigan-Flint C. Nathan DeWall, Emily Leskinen St. Olaf College. Background.

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gentleman or cad perceptions of men who pay for dinner

Gentleman or Cad?Perceptions of Men Who Pay for Dinner

T. William AltermattUniversity of Michigan-Flint

C. Nathan DeWall, Emily Leskinen

St. Olaf College

background
Background

By the 1920s, norms of American courtship had shifted from the old pattern of “gentlemen callers” to a new pattern that gradually became known as dating. Because young men had access to employment and young women generally did not, the practice of men paying for dates developed. Critics of this tradition have warned that it risks reinforcing an impression that women are dependent on men and that it implies an exchange in which physical intimacy is expected in return for date expenses. Previous research (Altermatt, 2001) indicates that when a woman is the recipient of multiple chivalrous behaviors (“ladies first,” standing when a woman arrives or departs, and paying for dinner), she is perceived as significantly less independent than if the chivalrous behaviors had not occurred. The present experiment sought to test whether merely paying for the meal has an impact on observers’ perceptions of those involved.

methods
Methods
  • Participants
    • Thirty-five undergraduate students (22 female, 11 male, 2 unidentified; average age = 19.1) enrolled in psychology courses participated in return for course credit.
  • Materials
    • Two videotapes showing a male and female actor (“not currently romantically involved”) going out for a meal at a nice restaurant.
    • In one videotape, the man pays for the meal; in the other, they share the expense. Otherwise, the tapes are the same.
  • Procedure
    • Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of the videotapes and then responded to a questionnaire designed to measure their impressions of the two characters and the relationship between them.
evaluation of male character
Evaluation of Male Character

Gender x Pay Interaction, p = .005Simple main effects, each p = .06

how much does the male character respect the female character
How much does the male character respect the female character?

Gender x Pay Interaction, p = .03Simple effects: Males, p = .05, Females, p = .35

how much is the male character attracted to the female character
How much is the male character attracted to the female character?

Gender x Pay Interaction, p = .006Simple effects: Males, p = .09, Females, p = .02

summary of results
Summary of Results
  • Female participants perceived the man who paid as more kind, warm, and respectable and also more respectful of and romantically attracted to the woman, as compared to the man who shared the expense.
  • Male participants, however, showed exactly the opposite pattern, expressing more favorable reactions toward the male character who did not pay.
discussion
Discussion
  • These results suggest sex differences in the interpretation of some aspects of the dating script.
  • Male observers may see payment as strategic – designed to create an inequity in the relationship which could be resolved by the female character reciprocating with physical intimacy. Thus, male characters may see the man who pays as a “cad” – using a courteous gesture for dishonorable goals.
  • Female observers may see the payment merely as a gesture of respect or affection, and may perceive the man who pays as a “gentleman.”
future directions
Future Directions
  • Investigate the perceived intentions of a man who pays for dinner: Do men see “strategy” where women see “politeness”?
  • Identify the conditions under which paying for dinner leads to “strategic” or “polite” attributions.
  • Examine whether the previous finding (Altermatt, 2001) that women receiving chivalry are perceived as less independent is explained – either wholly or in part– by payment.