Why are Benevolent Sexists Happier?

Abstract

Research indicates that the endorsement of sexist ideology is linked to higher subjective wellbeing for both men and women. We examine gender differences in the rationalisations which drive this effect in an egalitarian nation (New Zealand). Results from a nationally representative sample (N = 6,100) indicated that the endorsement of Benevolent Sexism (BS) predicted life satisfaction through different mechanisms for men and women. For men, BS was directly associated with life satisfaction. For women, the palliative effect of BS was indirect and occurred because BS-ideology positioning women as deserving of men’s adoration and protection was linked to general perceptions of gender relations as fair and equitable, which in turn predicted greater levels of life satisfaction.

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Acknowledgements

This manuscript is based on Matthew Hammond’s honours dissertation supervised by Chris Sibley. We thank the Friday Morning Social Psych Research and Coffee Group for constructive feedback on this manuscript. Collection of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study 2009 (NZAVS-09) data analyzed in this paper was funded by University of Auckland FRDF (#3624435/9853) and ECREA (#3626075) grants awarded to Chris Sibley.

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Correspondence to Chris G. Sibley.

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Hammond, M.D., Sibley, C.G. Why are Benevolent Sexists Happier?. Sex Roles 65, 332 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0017-2

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Keywords

  • Benevolent Sexism
  • Gender-specific system justification
  • Life Satisfaction