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Gender relations, compared to other intergroup relations, are characterized by a unique combination of power differences and mutual dependency. This interplay motivates men and women to cooperate and avoid open conflict, but also gives rise to subtle attitudinal and behavioral mechanisms that reinforce traditional gender roles. These subtle mechanisms are harder to recognize than overtly hostile ones and are sometimes more damaging. Drawing on key social psychological theories (such as ambivalent sexism and objectification theory), this line of work examines the operation of these mechanisms and the associated personal and professional costs for those involved.

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Prosocial Behavior Can Paradoxically Reinforce Gender Roles and Inequality in Diverse Domains

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Helping behaviors is a primary form through which gendered cooperation takes place. Men and women often offer and seek help from each other. While helping seems positive on the surface, there are subtle details and nuances to consider. We focus on understanding how certain types of help reinforce traditional gender roles. We conduct experiments that observe men’s and women’s behaviors in situations where help can be given or received. Our findings consistently show that both women and men engage in helping behaviors that prevent them from acquiring tools for independent coping in counter-stereotypical domains. Within traditionally masculine domains, we find that some women seek and some men offer dependency-oriented help, providing direct assistance rather than enabling women to cope autonomously. For instance, women may prefer receiving the final answer to a challenging math problem instead of an explanation that empowers them to solve it independently. Similarly, men may take over parking a car instead of guiding a woman through the process. In a "mirror image" of this gendered dynamic, when men undertake domestic tasks like childcare or house cleaning, they often seek dependency-oriented help from women, rather than assistance that fosters autonomy. This pattern of helping further contributes to an unequal division of household chores within heterosexual couples. Additionally, we examine the dynamics of cross-gender helping in professional contexts, where women frequently bear the burden of organizational "housework," impeding their advancement. We also find that businesswomen receive less empowering support, which consequently hampers their ability to thrive in business environments.

Father and Son

Psychological Barriers Impeding Men’s Inclusion in Communally Oriented Domains

Our research aims to address the persistent gender role imbalance in domestic work and its implications for achieving gender equality. Despite progress in women's participation in traditionally masculine fields, women continue to shoulder the majority of household and childcare responsibilities, limiting their career aspirations and overall wellbeing. Similarly, men remain underrepresented in traditionally feminine domains, missing out on the positive psychological and life outcomes associated with communal roles, such as fostering quality relationships with children. In our lab, we focus on identifying the psychological barriers that impede men's engagement in communally oriented domains and conduct experiments to test behavioral interventions aimed at reducing these barriers. One example of our approach involves utilizing innovative role-playing games to challenge and reshape common beliefs about the domestic sphere. This includes shifting zero-sum perceptions of the domestic sphere as a competitive arena to foster a more communal view of relationships characterized by mutual responsiveness to each other's needs, as well as challenging the perception of women's inherent superiority in domestic skills.

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Ambivalent Sexism Across Domains: Predictors and Consequences

Our lab focuses on investigating ambivalent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996, 2001), which encompasses both hostile sexism (viewing women as manipulative competitors) and benevolent sexism (chivalrous view of women as pure but weak, deserving of men's protection and admiration). Through a rigorous systematic review, we examined the multidisciplinary literature on ambivalent sexism, synthesizing empirical findings across domains like workplaces and close relationships. This review provided insights into the predictors and consequences of ambivalent sexism, while also revealing gaps in knowledge. Building upon these insights, a key focus of our current research is understanding the personal consequences of benevolent sexism for men, examining how it constrains their personal and professional growth (see more details in the Project section below).

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Psychological Processes Through Which Prejudiced Men are Personally Harmed

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This line of work is focused on the personal harm experienced by prejudiced men, a perspective often overlooked in previous research. We examine how perpetuating prejudice against women, through phenomena like benevolent sexism (advocating for men's role as protectors and providers of women) and endorsement of masculine norms and practices (including the tendency to sexually objectify women), negatively shapes how men interact with women. These dynamics have the potential to limit men's personal and professional growth, deny them valuable opportunities, and have a negative impact on their wellbeing. By shedding light on these issues, our aim is to contribute to the growing evidence that reducing gender inequality, along with challenging the ideologies and behaviors that perpetuate it, brings about benefits for everyone, including both women and men.

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Sexual Objectification: Motivations and Consequences

Our lab focuses on studying sexual objectification, which involves perceiving and using a person's as an object for sexual use, disregarding their other qualities. We investigate the social-psychological motivations behind engaging in sexual objectification and the negative outcomes it has for both women and men. We find that sexual objectification, primarily directed towards women, stems from a desire to maintain the gender hierarchy. However, engaging in objectification also takes a toll on the personal wellbeing of both men and women. Our ongoing work examines the psychological consequences of sexual objectification on social and work relationships, as well as developing technological tools to assess subtle forms of objectification.

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Polarized Perceptions of Women and Men

This research examines the origins and relationship consequences of polarized perceptions of women's and men's sexuality. The Madonna/Whore Dichotomy involves dividing women into either virtuous and pure "madonnas" or destructive and seductive "whores." Similarly, the Macho-Man/Nice-Guy Dichotomy categorizes men as either unattractive "nice guys" or desirable yet morally flawed "macho men." We find that endorsing these dichotomies is not only associated with supporting patriarchal ideologies but also predicts dissatisfaction in heterosexual relationships. Thus, these dichotomies function as a double-edged sword: while they originate from motivations to reinforce unequal gender arrangements, fulfilling these motivations comes at a cost to the wellbeing of both men and women. Current research efforts focus on developing explicit and implicit measures to assess these dichotomies, examining their potential correlates (such as preferences observed in dating contexts), and utilizing longitudinal designs in couples to provide insights into their relationship effects over time.

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