The effect of gender identity and gender threat on self-image

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The present work examined whether men's and women's gender-identities and experiences of gender threats influenced their self-images. Findings across two studies (N = 567) revealed that masculinity in men appears to be more precarious than femininity is in women, but when similarly threatened in a given situation both men's and women's anger predicted their construction of gender compensatory self-images. Specifically, in Study 1, participants' definition of the self in terms of gender ingroup (vs. outgroup) traits (a) positively predicted the gender stereotypicality of men's and women's actual photographs and women's constructed self-images, but (b) negatively predicted the gender stereotypicality of men's self-images. Men whose self definitions least strongly prioritized gender ingroup (over outgroup) traits generated the most gender stereotypic self-images, as rated by independent judges. In addition, in Study 2, after being led to believe that they performed like average members of their gender outgroup (i.e., threat condition) on a gender knowledge test, men expressed more public discomfort and were angrier than women. Gender threat (vs. assurance) also indirectly predicted the generation of more gender stereotypic self-images for men, but not women; this effect was significant via serial mediation, through public discomfort and anger. However, extending prior findings, anger (but not public discomfort) was significantly associated with and predicted the construction of feedback contradicting self-images similarly. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and research on gender-identity, self-image, and compensatory gender threat responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104335
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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