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The “good” professional: Effects of trait-profile gender type, androgyny, and likableness on impressions of incumbents of sex-typed occupations

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Abstract

Three studies utilizing an impression formation paradigm assessed perceived desirability of masculine, feminine, and androgynous trait profiles attributed to incumbents of sex-typed occupations. Participants in all three studies were predominantly upper middle class Caucasians. Approximately 60% were women and 40% were men. While a general masculinity bias was observed, several important qualifications to this bias were suggested. In Study I, trait likableness had a greater influence than did trait gender typing on impressions across occupations, suggesting the occurrence of centrality effects. Context effects also occurred in impressions of various combinations of particular masculine and feminine traits. Study 2 controlled trait likableness, and while a masculinity bias was still observed, androgynous profiles were rated as equally desirable as masculine profiles across occupations. Study 3 demonstrated that high levels of both masculinity and femininity resulted in favorable impressions, and support was obtained for an “interactive model” of androgyny, i.e., androgynous profiles were rated as more desirable than either gender-typed masculine or feminine profiles across occupations. Nonetheless, some evidence of a “matching bias” between trait gender typing and occupational sex typing was obtained in all three studies, especially for the male-typed occupation of lawyer and the female-typed occupation of nurse. The results are discussed in terms of the operation of “occupational role schemas” in perceptions of incumbents.

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Author information

Correspondence to Daniel Arkkelin.

Additional information

The authors express appreciation to William Thiel and Barbara Fritzsche for their assistance in Experiments 2 and 3. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the 1985, 1987, and 1989 annual meetings of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.

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Arkkelin, D., O'Connor, R. The “good” professional: Effects of trait-profile gender type, androgyny, and likableness on impressions of incumbents of sex-typed occupations. Sex Roles 27, 517–532 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00290007

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Keywords

  • Middle Class
  • Interactive Model
  • Centrality Effect
  • Context Effect
  • Important Qualification