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Double Standards in the Evaluation of Men and Women

Author(s): Martha Foschi


Source: Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3, Special Issue: Gender and Social Interaction
(Sep., 1996), pp. 237-254
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2787021 .
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Social Psychology
Quarterly
1996,Vol. 59, No. 3, 237-254

Double Standardsin the Evaluationof Men and Women*


MARTHA FOSCHI

University
ofBritishColumbia

studieson genderand double


Thisarticlepresentstheresultsfromtwoexpectation-states
standardsfor task competence.The emergenceof such standards under several
conditions
is investigated.
In bothstudies,menand women,participating
in
experimental
and thenas a teamin solvinga perceptual
opposite-sex
dyads,workedfirstindividually
task.As predicted,resultsfromExperiment
I show thatalthoughsubjectsof bothsexes
womenwereheldtoa stricter
achievedequal levelsofperformance,
standardofcompetence
was morepronouncedwhenthereferent
thanmen.Thisdifference
ofthestandardwas the
2 investigates
theextentto whichthedoublestandard
partnerratherthanself.Experiment
is affectedby level of accountability
for one's assessments.Resultsshow a significant
was low, butnotwhenit was
difference
bysex ofreferent
ofstandardwhenaccountability
inselfand inpartnerreflected
increased.In bothstudies,measuresofperceivedcompetence
reportedstandards,as predicted.Theoreticaland practicalimplications
of thesefindings
are discussed.

liking,controlmotives,or groupprejudices)
can affectwhatstandardswill be used. The
In task-orientedgroups, the processes researchpresentedhere links standardsto
wherebyindividualsassign competenceto groupprejudices.Specifically,the objective
eachotherhavecrucialconsequencesfortheir is to studywhether,under certaincondifutureinteraction.The standardsused to
forcompetenceare
tions,different
standards
judge thatcompetence,in turn,play a key
used to evaluatemembersof different
social
role in these processes:because such stancategories-evenwhen theyperformat the
thelevel and type
dardsare normsspecifying
same level. The workfocuseson genderas
of outcome requiredto inferability,the
the
basis of sucha doublestandard.In other
inferencevaries dependingon the standard
words,
giventhatwomenoftenare assigned
used. For example, a score of 70% is
lower
levels
of abilitythan men, to what
sufficient
evidenceforabilityif thestandard
extent
is
this
assignmentthe resultof the
is 60% or higher,butthatscorebecomesan
if the standardis applicationof a double standard,which is
unconvincing
performance
forthefemaleperformers?
Whatare
at least 80%. A similarexample may be stricter
some
of
the
variables
that
affect
when
this
constructed
forlack of ability.Because the
occurs?
The
states
research
expectation
assignmentof task competenceis directly
its branchon status
relatedto achievingstatusand influencein a program,particularly
thetheoretical
characteristics,
provides
backto understandhow
group, it is important
ground.
are set.
standards
the
Expectationstatestheoryinvestigates
In manytasks, standardsare not clearly
ofpowerandprestigehierachies
defined beforehand.As a result, factors development
unrelatedto the task (e.g., interpersonalin task groups(Bergeret al. 1977; Berger,
Wagner, and Zelditch 1985; Wagner and
Berger1993; Websterand Foschi 1988). The
* The studiesreported
in thisarticlewerecarriedout
tradition,and
undera researchgrantfromthe Social Sciences and theoryhas a long-standing
providestrongsupportfor
HumanitiesResearch Council of Canada (# 482-88- empiricalfindings
0015, StrategicGrantsDivision, Women and Work its predictions.(For assessments,see, for
acknowledgethissupport.I would example, Deaux 1985; Wiley 1986.) A
Theme). I gratefully
also like to thankRicardo Foschi for his work in
developingthe computerprogramforthe experimental centralconceptin thisprogramis thatof a
any valued attribute
task;LarissaLai, MarieLembesis,and KirstenSigerson "statuscharacteristic,"
for theirassistancein runningthe experiments;and implying
taskcompetence.Such characterison an earlier ticsconsistof at leasttwo states(e.g., either
SandraSchmidtforhereditorialcomments
to the
versionof this article. Direct correspondence
or low levelof mechanicalability,either
ofAnthropology
andSociology, high
authorat theDepartment
limitedor extensiveformaleducation),one of
Universityof British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.,
Canada V6T IZI.
whichis evaluatedmorepositivelythanthe
THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

237

238

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

are also definedas As an example,I assume genderto be the


other.These attributes
rangingfromspecificto diffuse,depending diffuse
attribute.
Thus,whena mansucceeds,
on theirperceivedapplicability.A specific two consistentpieces of information
(status
is associatedwithwell-defined and level of performance)
characteristic
are availableand a
character- definiteinferenceof competenceresults.
a diffuse
expectations;
performance
istic carries,in addition,predictionsabout Successby a woman,however,represents
an
in a wide, indeterminate
variety inconsistent
performance
combination;
therefore
a weaker
of tasks.In manysocieties,gender,'ethnic- inferenceof abilityensues. On the other
dif- hand,failurewill be viewedas a consistent
ity,and socioeconomiclevel constitute
Thus women,for outcomefor a woman but not for a man.
fuse statuscharacteristics.
example,oftenare expectednot only to be Consequently
thisoutcomewillbe interpreted
to menin variousspecificskills,but as indicating
inferior
lack of abilitymorestrongly
in
also to be inferiorin generalcompetence. the female performerthan in her male
(For discussionsand reviewsof genderas a counterpart.
For a morefullydetailedpresensee Ridgeway1993; Wagner tationof these hypotheses,includingscope
statusattribute,
1988.)
conditions,see Bergeret al. (1977); experioftaskabilitymaybe made mentaltests(e.g., Pughand Wahrman1983;
The assignment
evaluations)or in- Wagner,Ford,and Ford 1986) provideclear
directly
(fromperformance
(on thebasisof statuscharacteristics).empiricalsupport.
directly
This assignment,in turn,resultsin perfor- Foschi(1989) proposesbothan elaboration
beliefsabouthow and an extensionof the above formulation.
manceexpectations-stable
willcarryouta giventask The proposal incorporatesideas from (1)
wella groupmember
aretheoretical attribution
in thefuture.
Suchexpectations
workexamining
howtheperceived
between causes of successand failureare affected
therelationship
constructs
mediating
by
and thepowerand presstatuscharacteristics
the performer'smembershipin a social
orderis definedin
tigeorderofthegroup.This
category (Deschamps 1983; Hansen and
behaviors:
termsof thefollowinginterrelated
O'Leary 1985; Whitley,
McHugh,and Frieze
intheoffer
andacceptance
unequaldistribution
1986) and (2) expectationstatesresearchon
thetypeofevalofperformance
opportunities,
theeffectsof standardson the interpretation
exuationsreceived,andtheratesofinfluence
of performance
outcomes(Foschi and Freestatestheory
focuseson exerted.Expectation
man
and Hart1985).
1991;
Foschi,
Warriner,
plaining how this order originatesand is
At
the
core
of
this
is
the notionthat
theory
basedonthethemaintained
whileinterventions
in
differences
inferred
ability
persistin spite
theinequalities.
waysofredressing
oryidentify
of
because
equal
performances
different
with
is
concerned
The presentresearch
in whichexpectations
are based on standardsfor competenceare applied to
situations
members.It is
both status and performanceevaluation. higher-and to lower-status
useful
standards
in
to
termsof their
classify
in thosecases in
I am interested
Specifically,
(see Foschi and Foddy 1988). A
in statusbutperform
at the strictness
whichactorsdiffer
same level (either well or poorly). For strict standardfor ability requires more
theoreticalas well as applied reasons, the evidence of competence (e.g., a larger
case occurswhenthesetwo numberof correctresponses,attainedovera
mostinteresting
tasks) than
constitute
itemsof information
verydifferentlargernumberof more difficult
groundsforcompetence.Thus let us assume does a lenientstandard.Conversely,a strict
evaluationsareobjective standardfor lack of ability toleratesless
thattheperformance
thandoes a lenient
(i.e., the operationof biases has been evidenceof incompetence
in standard.Morever, a situationinvolves a
blocked)and thatthe statuscharacteristic
questionis diffuse.Accordingto expectation "universal" standardif the same set of
is appliedto all performers;
if
will requirements
statestheory,the resultingexpectations
that this is not the case, "double" or even
of all the information
be a combination
obtain.In Foschi(1989)
the actorconsidersrelevantto the situation. "multiple"standards
I proposethat,undercertainconditions,a
status characteristic
that differentiates
the
lI use thetermsex to referto biologicaldifferences
into
two
classes
activates
the
use
performers
betweenmenandwomen,andgenderforculturalaspects
forcompetenceand for
of these differences.See Foschi, Lai, and Sigerson of double standards
lackofcompetence,
bothof whicharestricter
(1994) fora discussionof thispoint.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

239

No doublestandards
The higherthe nevertheless.
benefiting
forlower-status
performers.2
are predictedfor(2) or
inconsistency
betweenstatusand outcome, the male performer
thestandard.
thestricter
(3).
and
Once a double standardis activated,it
I propose the status characteristics
multiplestandardstheoryfor a situationin affectsthe degreeof abilitythatis inferred.
to
whicha person(self) workson a joint task The applicationof a morelenientstandard
are themanensuresthatmoreabilityis assigned
witha partner(other).The propositions
statedfromself's pointof view and applyto to him, regardlessof level of performance,
or diffuse, thanto the woman withthe same record.3
any statuscharacteristic-specific
with Thus double standardscontributeto the
individually
as well as in combination
forthecase maintenanceof the initial,status-basedasothers.HereI presenta summary
of gender,and assume the followingscope signmentof competenceand are another
of thepowerandprestigeorderof
conditions:(1) self values the task and is component
bothto do it well and to arriveat the group. The practice is both subtle
motivated
correctassessmentsof the two performers' (because it does notinvolveeitherdevaluing
theperformance
competence;(2) selfis awarethatthepartner or overvaluing
directly)and
is not necessarilyconscious(because an actor
is oftheoppositesex (i.e., sex ofperformer
a salientfactorin thesituation);
(3) selftreats does not have to formulatesuch standards
(i.e., explicitlyin order to use them). For an
genderas a diffusestatuscharacteristic
an indicationof women's inferiorcompe- alternativebut compatibleformulation
on
also proposedwithinexpectence); (4) self knows the resultsof each doublestandards,
(as- tationstatestheory,see Foddyand Smithson
person's prior individualperformance
sessedby a thirdparty)and believestheseto (1989); also see BiernatandManis(1994) and
be unbiased, but no previouslyset and Biernat,Manis, and Nelson (1991) fortheir
are availableby which workon stereotypes
and shifting
agreed-upon
standards
standards.4
Multiple standardsfor competencethat
to inferability(or lack thereof)fromthose
at thesame benefitthe higher-status
results;(5) bothpersonsperform
are comperformer
level; and (6) self has no othergroundson mon in a varietyof everydaytask settings,
whichto base assessmentsof task compe- rangingfrominformal
groupsto formalwork
contexts.The social psychologicalliterature
tence.
Foschi(1989) specifiesthatselfmaydefine containsseveraldescriptions
of theiroperathe task in one of the followingways: (1)
3 Othertypesof gender-based
(3) explicitlydissomasculine,(2) feminine,
double standardsalso
in codesofmorality
andcriteria
ciated from gender, or (4) not explicitly exist,suchas differences
Similarly,double (or even
definedin relationto gender.It is predicted for physicalattractiveness.
multiple)standardsfor competencemay be based on
thatin (1), selfwill tendto activatea stricter attributes
otherthanstatuscharacteristics
(e.g., level of
forcompe- interpersonalliking, or personal qualities such as
standard
forthefemaleperformer,
In general,a multiplestandard
refersto the
Thisalso friendliness).
tenceas wellas lackofcompetence.
criteriaforassessingthe same trait(or
will occur in (4), where genderand task use of different
or performance)in different
categoriesof
become relatedthrough"status generaliza- behavior
people. The presentresearchis concernedonly with
tion." In this process, a status attribute gender-based
in inferring
doublestandards
ability.For a
becomesrelevantto the task at hand unless reviewof varioustypesofmultiplestandards,see Foschi
to thecontrary. (1992).
thereis specificinformation
4 Also, in some conditions,
thelower-status
personis
In such a case, thedoublestandardswill be
treated with a more lenient (but not explicitly stated)
less pronouncedthan when the task is standardthanthe higher-status
counterpart,
and is told
themselves thathis or herperformance
masculine,buttheywill manifest
is a sufficient
demonstration
2

doublestandardto refereitherto
I use theexpression
one personwhois assessingtheperformances
byhimself
in a particular
orherself
andbya specificpartner
context,
or to theaveragerequirement
appliedto selfand to other
by a numberof individuals.I use the plural double
standards,however,ifI wishto emphasizethata double
standard
of different
maybe activated,either
magnitude
by each of severalindividualsor by the same person
whenmakingassessmentsacross variouscircumstances
and/or
partners.

ofabilitywheninfactitis not.Suchstatements
arerarely
theresultof a genuineerrorin assessment
butratherare
madeforotherpurposes:forinstance,to avoidconveying
a poorevaluationorto meetquotas.Forthisreason,such
falloutsidethescopeofthisarticle.
patronizing
standards
Theyare worthinvestigating,
however,because depriving the lower-status
actorof a truthful
appraisalis yet
anotherpracticethroughwhichthe statusquo can be
maintained.For discussionsof thisand othertypesof
morelenientstandards
forthe lower-status
person,see,
for example, Blalock (1979: chap. 4) and Epstein
(1970:978).

240

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

gender,as well as These are sex linkageof task and level of


regarding
tion,particularly
Thus the task was definedas
a number of studies providing indirect performance.
evidenceof thispractice(see Foschi 1992 for masculine,and bothactorsperformed
at an
a review).To myknowledge,however,only averageratherthanan extremelevel. These
Biernatet al. (1991), Foddy and Smithson twodesigndecisionsmaximizethelikelihood
(1989), and Foschi (1989) have proposed thatdistinctdouble standardswill be actiformaltheoriesabout such standards.(Also vated:shouldthispracticenot appearunder
see Jassoand Webster1995 fora theoretical these conditions,it would be unlikelyto
analysiscombiningideas fromthe multiple appear at other levels of these variables.
and thedistributive
justiceformula- Thus, regardingsex linkage,I consideredit
standards
hereis partof an crucialto be able to demonstrate
firstthat
tions.)The workpresented
ongoingresearchprogramdesignedto test double standardsindeedemergedunderthe
conditions
of an explicitly
Foschi's (1989) theory.Two studiesalready facilitating
mascunamely linetask.The resultsthencouldbe used later
havebeencompletedin thisprogram,
Foschietal. (1994) andFoschi,Sigerson,and as a baselineforothersex-linkage
conditions.
Lembesis(1995); bothaddressdouble stan- Similarly,I chose an average level of
on the assumption
dardsin an extendedcontextwhereselfis an performance
thatextreme
a moredefinite
evaluatorof othersbut not a performer.5levels,becausetheyconstitute
Resultsfromthefirststudyshowthat,given indicationof eitherabilityor lack of ability,
an averageoutcomeby a male and a female wouldbe morelikelyto escape statuseffects
men but not womenfavoredthe thanwouldaverageoutputs.(See Foschiet al.
performer,
In thesecondstudy,subjectsof both 1995. For discussionsof thispointin relation
former.
an advantage to gendereffectsin particular,see Epstein
sexes gave themale performer
whenthetwohad 1970; Kalin and Hodgins 1984; Lott 1985;
overhisfemalecounterpart
achieved an average outcome, but this NievaandGutek1980;WallstonandO'Leary
advantagewas reversedwhen theirperfor- 1981.)
Let us thenassumeopposite-sex
mances were outstanding.In both studies
dyads,and
double standardswere measuredindirectly. conider themfromeach person'spointof
The two experiments
reportedhere, on the view. Thus, eitherself is a man and his
otherhand, assess double standardsdirectly partneris a woman,or selfis a womanand
and investigate
theiroccurrencein theorigi- herpartner
is a man. The taskcontextmeets
nal self-and-other
context of expectation all theotherconditionsspecifiedso far,and
statesresearch.The objectivesare (1) to test bothpersonsperformsuccessfully.
The hykey hypotheseson the activationof double pothesestobe testedconcernsex ofperformer
andtheresulting
levelsofperceived and thatperson'srolein thedyad(eitherself
standards
theroleof or other). I propose the followingtwo
and (2) to investigate
competence,
two additional selected factors in those hypotheses:
thestandard
is setforself
1. (Gender).Whena mananda
processes:whether
Hypothesis
at thesame level of success
or forother,and the level of accountabilitywomanperform
as theirrespectiveopposite-sexpartners,
forself's assessments.
the
woman's performance
will tend to be assessedwitha stricter
standard
forabilitythan
EXPERIMENT1
the man's. As a result,the level of compeOBJECTIVES
tenceinferred
aboutthewomanwillbe lower
than
that
inferred
abouttheman.
This studyconcernsa situationin which
A
of expectationstates
major
assumption
twofactors,assumedto affectthemagnitude
of competenceare
of the double standard,are held constant. theoryis thatassignments
relativeto theactorsin a givensituation;
that
a
result
from
is,
they
comparison
between
5Although Foschi (1989) largelyoverlapswiththe
original status characteristics
theory,the two differ these actors (Bergeret al. 1977: chap. 4;
Bergeret al. 1985). Hence, in the dyads
slightlyin scope. The inclusionof scope conditions(4)
and (5) makesthe formermorelimitedthanthe latter, studiedhere,the man shouldexperiencethe
althoughrelaxingthese in futurework should be a
same competenceadvantageover his female
relatively
straightforward
matter.On theotherhand,by
whether
he occupiestheroleof selfor
includingsituations
whereselfis an evaluatorof others partner
differences
but not a performer,
Foschi (1989) extends status of other.In otherwords,although
characteristics
theory.
due to role may exist (stemming,for

DOUBLE STANDARDS

241

forthisstudy.The
motives),sta- researchor werepretested
example,fromself-enhancing
were seated individually
at
factorunder two participants
tusis assumedto be thestronger
the specified scope conditions(also see adjacent stations equipped with personal
computers
said tobe linkedto eachother.The
Foschiet al. 1994). Thus:
Hypothesis2. (Role). The process de- stationswere separatedby a partitionand
scribedin Hypothesis1 will occur whether subjectswereprecludedfrombothseeingand
occupytherole talkingwith each other.The experimenter
theactorsunderconsideration
dyads. statedthatthe purposeof the studywas to
of selfor of otherin theirrespective
will investigate
on a "contrast
performance
sensiIn otherwords,thefemaleperformer
be assessedby herselfas well as by hermale tivity"task in two simulatedworkenvironabilitystandardthan ments: an individualand a team setting.
partnerwitha stricter
Conversely,the Subjectswere informed
thatonly the memwill her male counterpart.
willbe assessedbyhimselfas bers of the researchstaffwould see their
maleperformer
well as by his femalepartnerwitha more individualresponses,and that theirnames
wouldbe keptconfidential.
Instructions
were
lenientabilitystandard.
wordedso as to motivateparticipants
to do
well (i.e., to be "task-oriented").
Each team
METHOD
thatits two memberswere of
was informed
at theuniversity
thesameyearandfaculty
but
Subjectsand Experimenters
of different
sex. Contrastsensitivitywas
discoveredabilityand
Subjectswere72 men and 72 women,all describedas a recently
fromthefaculties(schools)of of highpotentialvalue to a varietyof tasks.
undergraduates
of British Reliableresearchwas said to haveshownitto
Artsand Science at theUniversity
Columbia. Average ages (with standard be mainlyintuitiveand relativelyspecific.
deviationsin brackets)were 18.58 [0.96] for Thus the subjectsheard that "althoughno
the men and 18.80 [1.11] for the women. significantrelationshiphas so far been
and each person establishedbetweenit and attributes
such as
was voluntary
Participation
was paid $8 for the session. A pool of mathematicalskill or artisticability,men
in large have been foundto be generallyfar more
subjectswas obtainedby recruiting
classes; thosestudents accurate than women at solving contrast
first-and second-year
beyond sensitivity
problems."
who had takencoursesin psychology
task consistsof
an introductory
level and/orwho had partici- The contrastsensitivity
were severaltrials.On each trial,subjectsview a
experiments
patedin social psychology
area coveredto about the same
rectangular
excludedas prospective
subjects.
was teamedwithanother extentby smallerrectanglesof two different
Each participant
of theoppositesex, and teamswereassigned colors.Subjectsmustdecidewhichofthetwo
in the overallpattern.
at randomto one of threeconditions:(1) colors is predominant
higherscoreforselfthanforother;(2) higher The taskis actuallyambiguousto allow for
of acceptance/rejection
of
scoreforotherthanforself;or (3) no score the measurement
thathas
foreitherperson.The studythuswas a 2 (sex influence.It is a reliableinstrument
of subject and partner)x 3 (feedback been used extensivelyin expectationstates
condition)design,with24 subjectsper cell. studies.
A computerized
versiondevelopedexplicEach sessionwas conductedby one of two
female researchassistantsof similar age. itlyforthepresentworkwas used here.Brief
forthetaskas well as thevisual
Special attentionwas paid to maintaining instructions
of appearanceand deliveryof stimulithemselveswere presentedon the
uniformity
acrosssessions.
screen.The stimuliwerewhiteand red on a
instructions
black background.The computerprogram
gave the subject10 secondsto look at each
Proceduresand Materials
himor herfora response,
pattern,
prompted
For comparability,procedures were a and, afterfive seconds, showed the next
variant of the standardizedexperimentalpattern.Subjectswereassuredthat,although
therewas alwaysa
situationdeveloped for expectationstates thetaskappeareddifficult,
of theconresearch(Bergeret al. 1977:43-48). Instruc- correctanswer.Computerization
taskoffersmanyadvantages,
eitherwere adapted trastsensitivity
tionsand questionnaires
used in previous including(1) eliminatingthe possibilityof
fromreliable instruments

242

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

in communicatingquestionaboutit wouldfollowlogically(and
errorby the experimenter
fromthepreviousquesfeedbackto thesubjects,record- quiteunobtrusively)
prearranged
influence tionon scores.6
ing theirresponses,and computing
Duringthesecondseriesof trials,thetwo
rates, and (2) more controlby the experito workas a team
time for each subjectswere instructed
menterover the presentation
patternas well as over the time elapsed and to tryto arriveat a correctchoicein each
It also enhancesthecredi- trial. The intentionof thus creating a
betweenpatterns.
in eachpersonwas to
bilityofthecoverstoryandresultsin a highly "collectiveorientation"
make him or her assess the relativecompeengagingtask.
appearsin tencesof self and other.Subjectswere told
An overviewof theexperiment
Table 1. Duringthe firstpartof the study, thata team would be awardedtwo points
participants in the experimental conditions wheneverbothpersonswere correct.As an
forteamwork,
each of thesix
on the addedincentive
(4)) workedindividually
((1) through
task and made decisionson 20 patterns.At teamswiththemostpointswouldwin a $20
theend of thisseries,thescoresobtainedby prize.
For consistencywith other expectation
the two persons (trial by trial as well as
states
witha similardesign,the
experiments
overall)appearedon bothcomputerscreens.
taskvariedslightly
sensitivity
during
They showed either11 correctanswersby contrast
It
this
now
involved
two
phase.
patterns
per
self and 13 by the partner,or the reverse.
had
10
trial;
subjects
seconds
to
decide
which
Next, each person received a printoutof
areas containedmore
thesescores.Theneach subjectcompleteda of the two rectangular
writtenquestionnairethat included several white.The same abilityas in thefirstphase
checksand a measureof his or was said to be involved.Aftera subjectmade
manipulation
a
the partner's "choice" was
her own standardsfor the higher-scoring decision,
relayed.The feedbackwas manipulatedto
have contrastsensitivperson"to definitely
resultin 20 disagreements
and five agreeityability."
mentson theinitialchoices.Each subjectthen
I chose thescoresof 11 and 13 to indicate
made his or her own finalselection.In the
an equallyaveragelevel of success by both
disagreement
trials,this entailedeitherrepersons,for the reasons presentedearlier. mainingwithself's initialchoiceor changing
Such a level also has the advantage of it to agree with the partner's.The former
givingsubjectsa widerrangeof choicesfor decisionis referred
to as an s-response.The
settingtheirown abilitystandardthanwould proportion
of s-responsesoperationalizes
ina more definitesuccess. The latter, in fluencerejection,a variablewhich,in this
by the setting,is associatedreliablywithperceived
addition,could have been interpreted
subjects as implicitlyinformingthem of competencein selfand in other.
whatthatstandardshouldbe. On the other
At the conclusionof this series,subjects
hand, because reportingthat both persons completeda second questionnairethat inreceived exactly the same scores would cluded further
checksand one
manipulation
likelyhave createdsuspicion,thetwo scores additionalmeasureof relativecompetence.
weremade to differslightly.This difference This instrument
also served to assess any
also focuses attentionon the betterper- misunderstandings
and/orsuspicionsregardthe factthat,forthis ing the procedures.Next, subjects were
formerand highlights
eithera interviewed
person,outcomeand sex represent
to check further
on
individually
combination. theseissues,and thenweredebriefed.
consistentor an inconsistent
As discussedearlier,degreeof consistency The controlconditions
((5) and(6) inTable
is assumed to contributeto the use of a 1) excludedtheindividual
performance
phase
doublestandard.
andthecorresponding
scores.Becausedouble
One item in the questionnaire
prompted
subjectsto recordbothscores; the immedi- 6 If subjectshad been askedto set an abilitystandard
atelyfollowingitemaskedthemto statetheir foreach of two personswithcloselymatchingscores,
own abilitystandard
forthebetterperformer,theyprobablywouldhave producedmechanicalanswers
thesamestandard
forboth.On theotherhand,
of correctanswersrequired.I indicating
as a percentage
thesmalldegreeof difference
betweenthesescoresdid
assumedthat,giventhe scoresreceived,the not justifyasking for standards
for ability in one
subjectswould most likelyactivateand be performer
and for standardsfor lack of abilityin the
concerned with this standard. Also, the other.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

243

Table 1. Overviewof Experiment


1
Part2
Dependent
VariablesMeasured

Part1
Manipulation
Phase
Scores
Receivedby
Condition
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)

Sex of
Subject
M
F
M
F

M
F

Sex of
Partner
F
M
F
M
F

Subject
Partner
(Maximum:20)
11
11
13
13

Standards
forAbility
in HigherScoring
Person

Perceived
Competence
in Subject
and in Partner

13
13
11
11

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

No
No

Yes
Yes

standardsare assumedto be appliedto such articulatedsuspicionsabout the conformity


scores,thequestionaboutstandardswas not aspects of the study, six misunderstood
askedeither,and subjectsworkeddirectlyin crucialsectionsof theinstructions
and/orthe
questions,and eightshoweda clear
the team setting. In all other respects, written
procedureswere the same as in the experi- lack of task orientationand/orcollective
mentalconditions.
The purposeof thecontrol orientation.
(Several subjectsfell into more
groupswas to providebaselinemeasuresof thanone of thesecategories.)The analysis
competenceinferred
fromonlytwo itemsof thatfollowsincludesonly the 129 retained
information,
namelysex of selfand of other, subjects.7
and sex linkageof task.
In sum,I expectedtheresultsto showthat ManipulationChecks
thefemalebetterperformer
wouldbe judged
The postexperimental
questionnaireconby a stricter
abilitystandardthanher ma4e
counterpart,
regardlessof theirroles in the sistedof a varietyof items,some of which
dyad.The same setsof scoresthuswouldbe werefillersadded to maintaintherealismof
interpreted
differently,
dependingon sex of the cover story.Includedin this instrument
self and of other.As a result,measuresof were six five-pointbipolar scales used to
of the task.
wouldreflecta higher assess the subjects'perceptions
perceivedcompetence
means
and
The
standard
devia(in
brackets)
thanfor
level forthe male betterperformer
tions
to
items
corresponding
these
were:
his femalecounterpart,
of
regardless
again
would be largerin creative(1)-routine (5): 2.79 [1.01]; imporrole. This sex difference
the controlgroupsthanin the experimentaltant(1)-unimportant(5): 2.96 [0.88]; easy
(1)becausein thelattertheeffects
of (1)-difficult(5): 3.93 [0.89]; intuitive
conditions,
would be moder- learned (5): 2.04 [0.80]; and masculine
information
gender-related
ated by the equalityin the two persons' (1)-feminine (5): 2.97 [0.49]. Analysisof
varianceforeach attribute
showedno statistilevels.
performance
effectsfromeithertypeof
cally significant
dyad8or feedbackcondition,as anticipated.
The
thefirstfourattributes
figuresregarding
RESULTS
are withinexpectedrangesand indicatethat
On the basis of the information
obtained
questionnaire 7 In line withcommonlyaccepteduse in statistical
throughthe postexperimental
ifp ' .05, ofmarginal
and interview,15 subjects(eightmen and analysis,I call a resultsignificant
if p > .05 and ' .10, and
seven women) were excluded from the or borderlinesignificance
otherwise.In the lattercase, I omitthe
nonsignificant
10.4% of the presentationof details fromthe statisticaltests. The
analysis.This figurerepresents
totalnumberof participants.
Rejectionrules expressionp = .000 resultsfromroundingoffto three
be- decimalplaces.
were conservativeand were formulated
8 I use sex composition
of dyad,typeof dyad,sex of
and thispercentage
compareswell
forehand,
and other, and sex of subject and partner
with the exclusionrates of similarexperi- self
interchangeably.
Because thepartnerwas alwaysof the
ments.The excludedsubjectsmaybe classi- oppositesex, forbrevitysometimesI simplyreferto sex
fied as follows: seven volunteeredwell- ofsubject.

244

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

of the conditions,by sex of referent)


had createdperceptions
was signifitheprocedures
taskas intended.The data on thefifthitem, cant,as expected.
to the instruc- Perceivedcompetence
however,show that,contrary
in selfandotherwas
tions, subjects on average consideredthe measuredprimarily
through
level of rejection
I examinethis of influencefromthe partner,calculatedas
abilityto be gender-neutral.
pointin thediscussionsectionbelow.
the proportionof times a subject did not
The questionnairealso included similar changehis or herinitialanswer.The higher
scales to assess the subjects' dispositions this figure, the higher self's perceived
toward their task. Averages and standard competence
advantageoverother.In addition
(1)-uninterested to this behavioralmeasure,I obtainedone
deviationswere: interested
(1)-unmotivated auxiliaryindicator:perceivedtask abilityin
(5): 2.35 [0.91]; motivated
(5): 2.43 [0.88]; and involved (1)-unin- self relativeto thepartner.I used a bipolar
volved (5): 2.29 [0.88]. As can be seen, scale, with responsesrangingfrom "self
values for all threeitemsagain fell within muchworse" (1) to "self muchbetter"(5).
neither Resultsfrombothmeasuresappearin Table
expectedranges.Also as anticipated,
independentvariable had any statistically3.
effects.Finally,responsesto two
significant
Analysis of variance on rejection of
otherquestionnaireitems indicatethat all influenceshows significantresults as exsubjectsrecalledexactlythe scoresreceived pected:fromtypeof dyad(M (male subject)
by themselvesand by their partner,and = .597, M (femalesubject) = .486, F (1,
identified
thesex of thelatter.
correctly
123) = 31.93, p = .000), fromfeedback
condition(M (subjectworsethanpartner)=
.476, M (subjectbetterthanpartner)= .592,
DependentVariables
M (no scores) = .562, F (2, 123) = 12.95,p
I begin by examiningthe results on = .000), andfromtheinteraction
(F (2, 123)
person, = 3.59, p = .031). Simplecontrasts
on the
standards for the higher-scoring
ANOVA on comparisonsof directrelevanceto the hyshownin Table 2. As predicted,
main effect p6thesesrevealthat,foreach feedbacklevel,
these data shows a significant
of womenacceptedmore influencefromtheir
(or referent
fromsex of betterperformer
thequestionon standards)
(M (male referent) partnerthan did men fromtheirs.Results
= 68.05, M (female referent)= 73.45, F (1, fromthesetestswereas follows:Conditions
82) = 8.49, p = .005), while neitherthis (1) and (2): F (1, 123) = 5.84, p = .017;
was signifi- Conditions(3) and (4): F (1, 123) = 3.75, p
person'srole northeinteraction
cant. Simplecontrasts
reveala strongeffect = .055; Conditions
(5) and(6): F (1, 123) =
in the"other"conditions
of sex ofreferent
(F 29.68, p = .000. Findingsfromthe two
(1, 82) = 5.75, p = .019) but a marginally controlgroupsindicatethat,in theabsenceof
effectin the "self" groups(F (1, performance
therewas a clear
significant
information,
82) = 3.02, p = .086). Neitherof the other sex differencein expectations:men felt
two contrasts(between"self" and "other" superiorto womenin task ability,whereas
Person(in Percentages)
1: StandardsforAbilityin theHigher-Scoring
Table 2. Experiment
Condition
(as perTable 1)

Sex and Role


of Referent
of Standards

SD

Other

72.50

7.03

(1) Male subject


scoringworsethan
femalepartner

22

(2) Femalesubject
scoringworsethan
male partner

23

Other

66.39

11.24

(3) Male subject


scoringbetterthan
femalepartner

21

Self

69.86

6.81

(4) Femalesubject
Scoringbetterthan
male partner

20

Self

74.50

8.09

245

DOUBLE STANDARDS
1: PerceivedCompetencein Self and in Partner
Table 3. Experiment

Condition
(as perTable 1)

Self's
Ability
Relativeto
Partner's

Rejectionof
Influence
fromPartner
N

SD

SD

(1) Male subject


Scoringworsethan
femalepartner

22

.516

.103

2.57

.791

(2) Femalesubject
scoringworsethan
malepartner

23

.437

.109

2.13

.548

(3) Male subject


scoringbetterthan
femalepartner

21

.624

.129

3.10

.301

(4) Femalesubject
scoringbetterthan
male partner

20

.558

.122

3.00

.324

(5) Male subject


and femalepartner,
no scores

21

.655

.089

3.17

.577

(6) Femalesubject
and malepartner,
no scores

22

.473

.102

2.18

.501

In sum, results from the manipulation


womenheld the oppositeview. Because the
subjectsperceivedthetaskas gender-neutralchecks show thatoverall, subjects'percepratherthan masculine,what these resdlts
show is the singleeffectof sex composition
ofdyad.Thustheyestablishthatgenderwas a givingthemthesame scores.Table 3, however,shows
subjectsformeddifferent
in Conditions
expectations
forthe subjects. that
diffusestatuscharacteristic
(1) and (3), and in Conditions(2) and (4). Thus it is
Data fromthe othertwo comparisonsshow, possibleto view each of thesefourconditionsas either
as anticipated,that this sex effect was confirming
or disconfirming
(albeit not definitely)
the
formedin thecorresponding
controlgroups.
byequalityin the expectations
butnoteliminated
tempered
One thencan comparethesefindings
withthepredictions
levelsof performance.
thatthe originalstatuscharacteristic
formulation
makes
Resultson theauxiliarymeasureshowthe for such a situation,and with resultssuch as those
same pattern as those on rejection of obtainedby Wagner et al. (1986). For the current
whererelativesuccess and relativefailure
influence,again as expected. On relative experiment,
ANOVA indicates areambiguous,thattheorywouldpredictthatdifferences
abilityof selfand partner,
controland disconfirmation
conditionswill be
effects
fromtypeofdyad(M (male between
significant
whereasthosebetweencontroland confirmasignificant,
subject) = 2.94, M (female subject) = 2.41, tionconditionswill not. The resultsfromcontrastson
F (1, 123) = 28.54, p = .000), from rejectionof influencesupportall fourof thesepredicfeedbackcondition(M (subject worse than tions,as follows:Conditions(3) and (5) (male subjects,
F (1, 123) = 0.84, p = .362; Conditions
partner)= 2.35, M (subject betterthan confirmation):

(2) and (6) (female)subjects,confirmation):


F (1, 123)
= 1.20, p = .276; Conditions(1) and (5) (male
subjects,disconfirmation):
F (1, 123) = 17.27, p =
.000; Conditions(4) and (6) (femalesubjects,disconfiranalysesare as follows: mation):F (1, 123) = 6.28, p = .014. Contrastson
Resultsfrominternal
relativeabilityyield highlysimilarresults.In
Conditions(1) and (2): F (1, 123) = 7.46, p reported
addition, althoughon both measures of perceived
= .007; Conditions
(3) and(4): F (1, 123) = competenceone would have expectedthe resultsfrom
0.32, p = .572; Conditions(5) and (6): F (1, Condition(3) to be higherthanthosefromCondition(5),
theformer
arestillhighenoughto support
all hypotheses
.000).9
123) = 36.10,p=
involving
them.Perhaps,giventhedifficulty
of thetask,
ambiguousfailurerelativeto the partnercommunicates
9 This experiment
was designedto equate the two inferiority
muchmoredefinitely
thanthecorresponding
without
actually ambiguoussuccesscommunicates
superiority.
actorsat an averagelevelofperformance

partner)= 3.05,M(no scores) = 2.66,F(2,


123) = 18.11, p = .000), and from the
interaction(F (2, 123) = 7.35, p = .001).

246

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

in it conditionsmay be due to the following:


tionsofthetaskandoftheirinvolvement
had been createdas expected.Findingson althoughstatus processes may be equally
standardsindicate that the predictedsex- strongforselfand forother,theycouldhave
by additionalprocessesin the
effectis more pronouncedfor been tempered
of-referent
otherthan for self, and data on perceived case of self. When subjects had to set
forthepartner
(Conditions(1) and
withthisdifference standards
areconsistent
competence
(2)), genderwas theonlyitemof information
in everyrespect.
the two referents.Thus the
differentiating
distinction
betweenthemale and thefemale
DISCUSSION
partner
was a sharpone. On theotherhand,
when
had to set standardsfor
subjects
In myview,twoaspectsoftheresultsmerit
special attention,namelythose on (1) sex themselves(Conditions(3) and (4)), other
in additionto sex of self may
forselfand information
linkageof taskand (2) standards
have
become
salient.For example,subjects
forother.
in
have
recalled
theirown performances
may
task
identified
the
instructions
the
Although
as masculine,subjects'responsesindicatethat the past on similartasks-somethingthey
instead, on average, they viewed it as could not do regardingthe partner.As a
shouldhave
Clearly,the sex linkagema- result,theadditionalinformation
gender-neutral.
standards
for
self
less
differentiated
made
the
In
future
enough.
strong
was
not
nipulation
work it would be useful to reword the thanthoseforother.
Althoughno data were collectedin the
to place moreemphasison that
instructions
thatcould be used to test this
experiment
linkage,and perhapseven to display "evimake
thefollowingarguments
dence" of it on graphsand tables. Notice, interpretation,
thusunintend- it highly plausible. In the first place,
however,thatthe experiment
checkshad revealedno further
in the manipulation
a testofthehypotheses
edlyconstitutes
differences
between
"self" and "other"
in
results
burdenof proofcase, and therefore
a strictertest of the double standards conditions.A thoroughexaminationof all
items,includingfillers,yielded
quwstionnaire
10
formulation.
the
same
result.
Second, workon attribution
main
Regardingstandards,the significant
a
to overestimate
the
theory
reports
tendency
sex
of
referent
Hypothefrom
supports
effect
effectsfrom importanceof situationalfactorsin assesssis 1, while the nonsignificant
overestirole of referentand from the interaction mentsof self,and a corresponding
in
factors
mation
of
assessing
dispositional
supportHypothesis2. Contrastsadd more
informationon how these variables are others(Jonesand Nisbett1972; Monsonand
related;the resultsfromthreeof the four Snyder1977; L. Ross 1977; M. Ross and
contrasts
(Conditions(1) and (2), (1) and (4), Fletcher1985). Empiricalfindingssupport
and(2) and(3)) areclearlyas expected,while the existenceof this tendency("the fundaerror")undera varietyof
betweenConditions(3) and (4) is mentalattribution
thecontrast
All thingsconsid- conditions.Accordinglyit would be more
of borderline
significance.
receivesubstantial likelythatother,ratherthanself, would be
ered,then,thehypotheses
termsin this study.
judged in stereotypical
support.
in the supportreceivedby Moreover,here the tendencywould have
The difference
Hypothesis1 in the "self" and the "other" beenenhancedbythefactthatsubjectsindeed
wereconstrained
by theavailableinformation
in those terms.Comassess
to
the
partner
10Alternatively,
one could argue that the subjects
and oral) volunteered
by
but ments(bothwritten
believed the task to be masculine,as instructed,
becausethiswouldhave several subjectsrenderinformalsupportto
it to be gender-neutral
reported
This this view. In futureresearch,it would be
enhancedthemin the eyes of the experimenter.
argumentis highlyspeculative,however,because in relativelysimple to add questionson the
doingso, thesubjectsalso wouldhavebeencontradicting
to impress. factorsthat subjectsconsideredin making
ofthepersontheyweretrying
theinstructions
Moreover,I found no indicationsthat any subjects theirassessments.
whether
concerned
theyaccepted
believedtheexperiment
Finally,the followingimplicationof the
thestatedsex linkage.Finally,resultsfromtherestofthe resultsis worth
noting.Findingson perceived
manipulationchecks do not supportthe view that
shown
on the top fourrows of
competence
was paramountin the
impressingthe experimenter
3
those
Table
condition
reflect,
percondition,
to
I
reason
not
accept
subjects'minds.Therefore see no
obtainedon standards.When standardsare
theirresponseson perceivedsex linkage.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

247

(as in of theseprinciples-thatis, it shouldmake


clearlyby sex of referent
differentiated
the "other" conditions),thereis a corre- themthinkmoreaboutwhattheysay and do.
in the two measuresof There is some evidence fromexpectation
spondingdifference
competence.When the differencebetween states researchitself that such awareness
standardsdecreases(as in the "self" condi- decreasesstatuseffects.ThusMartinand Sell
tions), the perceivedcompetencemeasures (1983) createdeitherhigheror lowerperforforselfthanforotherin a
closer. Thus both manceexpectations
become correspondingly
setsof findingssupportthedoublestandards settingthateitherincludedor did notinclude
stimuli(mirrors,
self-focusing
camera,televiformulation.
sion monitor).Resultsindicatethatsubjects
in the formergroupsshowedthe effectsof
statusinformation
less thanthosein thelatter.
2
EXPERIMENT
Outsidethestatuscharacteristics
literature,
OBJECTIVES
severalstudieshave examinedtheeffectsof
A large number of studies on status accountability
on information
processing.
The
and expectationstates have resultsmostdirectly
relevantto theresearch
characteristics
as reported
hereshowthatsubjectsgive greater
usedthestandardized
experimental
setting,
when they
I do here. This has served to maintain thoughtto receivedinformation
across studies and thus has expectto be accountablefortheirresponses
comparability
increasedthecumulativeness
of theresearch. thanwhentheydo not(Tetlock1983, 1985;
of mostof thosestudies Tetlockand Kim 1987). Thus,thesefindings
One commonfeature
has been that(as in Experiment1) subjects revealthataccountablesubjectsconsiderthe
fromseeingeach other. different
have beenprevented
aspectsof an issue morecarefully
of thando nonaccountable
Thishas servedto controlfortheformation
subjects,pay more
to inconsistent
itemsof information,
expectationson the basis of characteristicsattention
In and attempt
to integrate
manipulated.
otherthanthoseintentionally
them.Accountability
addition,subjectseitherhave been led to also has been foundto increasethe use of
thatthey strategies
intended
to createfavorableimpresbelieveor have been toldexplicitly
with sionsin others.(See, forexample,Millerand
would have no face-to-face
interaction
the partner.Such featuresof the situation Schlenker1985 for a study showingthat
in
makethe subjectless accountableforhis or participants'
attributions
areless egotistical
of selfand other;thisfactor, publicthanin privateconditions.)In expectaherassessments
in turn,should fosterstatusgeneralization. tion statesresearch,both of thesetypesof
By "accountability"I mean the extentto processes(namelycognitiveand impression
intoa decrease
whichselfanticipates
shouldtranslate
havingto justifyhis or management)
heractions.To myknowledge,variationsin in the use of stereotypicalresponses as
increases.
thisfactorhave notreceivedadequateatten- accountability
The firstobjective of this study is to
statesresearch.In mostof
tionin expectation
has beentreatedas a incorporate"low accountabilityfor one's
thiswork,accountability
variablethatis usefulto keep constant-a assessments"as a scope conditionof the
of doublestandards.
The
decisionwhichis based on designratherthan theoryon activation
ofthe
Foschi et al. studythusservesas a partialreplication
on theoreticalconsiderations.
by retestingHypothesis1
(1994) and Foschi et al. (1995) discuss it firstexperiment
as a factorin statusgeneralization, with the explicit addition of that scope
explicitly
but again, both studies keep the variable condition.I focus on those groups from
a relatedtopic, is Experiment1 in which a double standard
constant.Self-awareness,
by Martinand Sell (1983).
investigated
emergedmost clearly,namelythe "other"
In general,expectation
statestheorymakes groups. In this way Experiment2 also
of thatfinding.
aboutself's awarenessof the assessesthereliability
no assumptions
principlesused in processingstatusinforma- The second objective is to explore the
tion-that is, the theoryproposesthattheir limitsof thatscope condition
by investigating
operationmay or may not be conscious whetherit can be extendedto include a
is not
(Bergeret al. 1985:37). This positionalso mediumlevel. (Note thattheintention
extendsto theuse ofdoublestandards
(Foschi to studythe effectsof clearly contrasting
on the values of this variable,such as "low" and
1989:63)). Increasedaccountability,
otherhand,shouldmakepeople moreaware "high" levels,forexample.)The increasein

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

248

shouldnarrowthegap between necessaryto replicatethe controlgroupsof


accountability
appliedto the Experiment1. An overviewof the design
thestandard
thetwostandards:
shoulddecrease,whilethe appearsin Table 4.
femaleperformer
should
standardset for the male performer
of relativecompetence
increase.Perceptions
Proceduresand Materials
shouldreflectthischangein standards.
In this studyI thus examinewhethera
The onlydifferences
in theprocedures
used
the in thetwo experiments
eliminates
mediumlevelof accountability
concerntheaccountor merelyreducesitsmagni- abilitymanipulation.
doublestandard
Thus, in Experiment
2,
tude. Results also would serve as indirect some paragraphswere incorporated
intothe
evidenceof theextentto whichthe subjects instructionsas follows. Subjects in the
as legitimate low-accountability
treattheuse ofa doublestandard
groups were instructed
That is, medium "Forthesakeofconfidentiality,
underthe circumstances.
pleasedo not
should not be sufficientto writeyourname on theseforms"and were
accountability
deterthe activationof double standardsif told "You can be assured that no one,
these are deemed to be a proper (i.e., includingyourpartner,will be seeingyour
culturallyacceptable) way of processing responsesto the questionnaires,with the
(For analyses of the role of exceptionoftheresearchteam.In addition,at
information.
processes in the formationof no timewill you be requiredto justifyyour
legitimation
see RidgewayandBerger1986; responsesto these questionnairesor your
expectations,
Ridgewayand Walker1995.)
choiceson thetasks,norwillyoube meeting

withyourpartnerduringthe course of the


study."In the medium-accountability
condiMETHOD
tions,theinstructions
stated"At theconclusion of the studyyou will be meetingyour
Subjectsand Experimenters
to compareand discussyouranswers
partner
and on thetwo tasks
Subjects were 48 men and 48 women. on thesequestionnaires
And please rememAverageages and standarddeviationswere y?ouwill be performing.
18.65 [1.14] forthemenand 18.81 [1.23] for ber to writeyourfull name legiblyon the
thewomen.The subjectpool was thesameas frontpage of each questionnaire."(The
1 impliedthat
2 was instructions
thatusedforExperiment
usedinExperiment
1; Experiment
no interaction
withthe partnerwould take
aftertheearlierstudy.
conductedshortly
was teamedwithanother place, thusmakingall theconditionsof that
Each participant
of theoppositesex, and teamswereassigned studyhighlycomparableto thelow-accountNote
at randomto one of two conditions,either abilitygroupsofthepresentexperiment.
The study also that, as stated earlier, the medium
low or mediumaccountability.
conditionswere not designed
was a 2 (sex of subjectand partner) accountability
therefore
x 2 (level of accountability)
design,with24 to representa maximumincrease in this
subjectspercell. Each sessionwas conducted factor.That could have been achieved,for
in the same way as in the previousexperi- example, by tellingthe subjectsthat they
ment.For thisreasonand because the same wereexpectedtojustifyall oftheiranswersto
subjectpool was used, I did not considerit both the partnerand the researchteam.)
2
Table 4. Overviewof Experiment
Part2
Dependent
VariablesMeasured

Part1
Phase
Manipulation
Scores
Receivedby
Condition
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

Sex of
Subject
M
F
M
F

Sex of
Partner
F
M
F
M

Subject
Partner
(Maximum:20)
11
11
11
11

13
13
13
13

Standards
forAbility
in HigherLevel of
Scoring
Person
Accountability
Low
Low
Medium
Medium

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Perceived
Competence
in Subject
and in Partner
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

DOUBLE STANDARDS

249

Manipulationchecks on this variablewere all subjectsrecalled exactlythe scores reand the ceived by themselvesand by theirpartner,
includedin thesecondquestionnaire
interview.
thesex of thelatter.
and correctly
identified
Finally,one 5-pointbipolarscale servedas a
manipulationcheck of accountability,
asRESULTS
sessed in termsof perceivedlevel of privacy
obtained of the situation.This itemread as follows:
An analysisof the information
instruments"Consideringwho will have access to your
throughthe postexperimental
resultedin theexclusionof 11 subjects(five responses(e.g., partner,researchassistant,
men and six women),or 11.5% of thetotal otherresearchers),rate how private(1)numberof participants.
The same rejection public (5) you perceivedtheseresponsesto
rules as in Experiment1 were applied,and be." Means and standarddeviationsforthe
theresulting
exclusionrateis similarto that low-accountability
groupswere as follows:
oftheearlierstudy.The reasonsforexclusion Condition(1) (male subjects):2.17 [1.10];
were as follows:suspicion(threesubjects), Condition(2) (femalesubjects):1.98 [0.76].
(foursub- Values forthemedium-accountability
misunderstanding
the instructions
groups
and/or were: Condition(3) (male subjects): 2.88
jects), and lack of task orientation
collectiveorientation(five subjects). (One [1.20]; Condition(4) (femalesubjects):3.13
person was classified in two of these [1.14]. As expected,ANOVA resultsshowa
maineffectfromthismanipulation
categories.)The followinganalysisincludes significant
= 2.08, M (medium
(M (low accountability)
onlythe85 retainedsubjects.
accountability)= 3.00, F (1, 81) = 24.46, p
= .000), whereasneitherthe main effect
Manipulation Checks
fromsex of subject nor the interaction
is
As in Experiment
1, thepostexperimentalsignificant.Simple contrastsindicate that
about the accountability
level madea significant
differquestionnaire
yieldedinformation
of thetask. Means and ence formen (F (1, 81) = 7.21, p = .009) as
subjects'perceptions
standarddeviationson these itemswere as well as forwomen(F (1,81) = 18.50, p =
follows: creative (1)-routine (5): 2.85 .000). In other words, subjects in the
[1.15]; important
(1)-unimportant(5): 2.87 low-accountability
groupsperceivedthecon[1.06]; easy (1)-difficult (5): 3.51 [1.18]; text of the studyto be significantly
more
intuitive(1)-learned (5): 2.31 [1.13]; and private than did those in the mediummasculine(1)-feminine (5): 2.85 [0.76]. accountability
groups.
Subjects' dispositionstowardthe task were
also assessedas in theearlierstudy.Averages
DependentVariables
and standarddeviationson these measureAs in Study1, I beginby examiningthe
mentswere:interested
(1)-uninterested(5):
2.40 [1.10]; motivated
(1)-unmotivated(5): resultson standardsfor the higher-scoring
2.45 [1.06]; and involved(1)-uninvolved person, shown in Table 5. As expected,
main effect
(5): 2.23 [1.00]. As expected,ANOVA for ANOVA indicatesa significant
of standards(M (male
each of these eight variables showed no fromsex of referent
statisticallysignificanteffectsfrom either referent)= 66.77, M (femalereferent)=
In 71.98, F (1, 81) = 7.19, p = .009), whereas
typeof dyad or level of accountability.
1 in neitheraccountability
nor the interaction
is
addition,a comparisonwithExperiment
Sex of referent
theserespectsshows a close overall corre- significant.
had a significant
was low (F
spondencebetweenthetwo sets of findings. effectonly when accountability
(The only noticeabledifferenceoccurs on (1, 81) = 5.16, p = .026).
in selfandinpartner
Perceivedcompetence
perceiveddifficulty;
subjectsin this study
thanthosein was measuredprimarily
assessedthetaskas less difficult
through
rejectionof
Experiment1. I do not attachany special influence.As Table 6 shows, men rejected
to thisdifference,
however,given more influencefromthe partnerthan did
importance
betweenthe women.ANOVA indicates,as expected,that
(1) the highlevel of similarity
two studiesin all otherrespectsand (2) the the main effectfromsex of subject was
factthatin bothexperiments,
subjectsnone- significant(M (male subject) = .543, M
thelessperceivedthetaskto be difficult.)
(female subject) = .452, F (1,81)) = 9.68, p
resultsalso showthat = .003), whereasthe effectsfromeither
The postexperimental

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

250

Person(in Percentages)
2: StandardsforAbilityin theHigher-Scoring
Table 5. Experiment
Sex
of Referent
of Standards

Level of
Accountability

Condition
(as perTable 4)

(1) Male subject

21

Low

72.14

9.02

21

Low

65.86

10.58

22

Medium

71.82

6.08

21

Medium

67.67

9.67

SD

scoring worse than

femalepartner

(2) Femalesubject
scoring worse than

malepartner

(3) Male subject


scoring worse than

femalepartner

(4) Femalesubject
scoring worse than

malepartner

were not. = 4.40, p =. 039. Simple contrastsreveal


or the interaction
accountability
Again, internalanalyses show that sex of borderlinesignificancefromsex of subject
in (Conditions(1) and (2): F (1, 81) = 2.97, p
difference
subjectresultedin a significant
only the low-accountabilitygroups (F = .089; Conditions(3) and (4): F (1, 81) =
(1, 81) = 8.66, p = .004). Perceptions of 2.77, p = .10) and nonsignificant
effects
relativeabilityin self and in otherwere fromaccountability.
In sum, all manipulation
checks (except,
assessedas well; as Table 6 also shows,these
varied by sex of subject and level of again,forsex linkageoftask)areas expected.
ANOVA indicatesa signifi- So aretheresultson standards
andrejection
accountability.
of
thewiderthegap in standards,
the
cantmaineffectfrombothof thesevariables, influence:
ininfluence
thedifference
while the interactionwas not significant. laqger
rejection.
MoreResults for sex of subject were: M over,data fromthelow-accountability
condi(malesubject)= 2.39, M (femalesubject)= tionscloselyreplicatethosefromConditions
2.12, F (1, 81) = 5.73, p = .019. For the (1) and(2) ofStudy1, as anticipated.
Findings
secondfactortheanalysisshowsthefollow- on perceivedrelativeabilityincludesomeuning: M (low accountability)= 2.38, M expectedresults,and theseare discussedbe= 2.14, F (1, 81) low.
(mediumaccountability)
2: PerceivedCompetencein Self and in Partner
Table 6. Experiment

Condition
(as perTable 4)

Self's
Ability
Relativeto
Partner's

Rejectionof
Influence
fromPartner

SD

SD

(1) Male subject


scoringworsethan
low
femalepartner,
accountability

21

.552

.156

2.52

.602

(2) Femalesubject
scoringworsethan
malepartner,
low
accountability

21

.429

.146

2.24

.436

(3) Male subject


scoringworsethan
medium
femalepartner,
accountability

22

.534

.108

2.27

.550

(4) Femalesubject
scoringworsethan
malepartner,
medium
accountability

21

.474

.131

2.00

5.48

DOUBLE STANDARDS
DISCUSSION

251

based double standardsin assessingcompefromthisexperiment


are tence. The theoreticalideas both elaborate
Two setsoffindings
indicate
thatthe and extendaspectsof the expectationstates
First,results
ofspecialinterest.
whiletheresultsrepresent
experdouble standard,althoughstill formulation,
gender-based
of the existenceand
whenaccountabilityimentaldemonstration
losesitsmagnitude
present,
a significant
sex-of- directionof such double standardsand their
is increased.
Thus,although
as well consequences. Thus, overall, subjects in
subjectmaineffect
is foundin standards
standard
in bothcases the opposite-sexdyadsreporta stricter
as in rejectionof influence,
for a femalethanfor a male partner,even
is tracedto thelow-accountability
significance
at the same
that thoughbothpersonsperformed
thusindicate
conditions
only.Thesefindings
level
and
the
difference
in
scores
between
self
areactivated
and
doublestandards
gender-based
was
also
The
and
other
equal.
gap
between
that
accountabilat
levelof
usedmostdefinitely
in
is a the standardsis reflectedin differences
ity.It also maybe thatlow accountability
on
perceived
competence,
and
findings
these
of theother
fortheoperation
scope condition
inexpectation
studied
statesthe- two variablesshow a high level of consisstatus
processes
in thegap in tency both within and across the two
thereduction
ory.Furthermore,
inaccountabilityexperiments.
an increase
standards
following
Consideredtogether,the studiesidentify
as an
ofusinggender
suggests
thatthelegitimacy
two
conditionsunder which the double
is somewhat
limited.
indication
of competence
inviewofthema- standardis most pronounced:(1) when the
Thisshouldnotbe surprising
is an "other"who differsfromself
jor changesin thestatusvalueof genderdiffer- referent
with
only
respectto gender,and (2) when
intheUS andCanadain
encesthathaveoccurred
feel
that accountabilityfor their
subjects
recentyears.
is
assessments
low. The double standard
Second, resultson relativeability,on the
even
the subjects report
emerges
though
from
other hand, are somewhatdifferent
the
that
(against
experimenter's
instructions)
thoseon rejectionof influence:whereasthe
It
lower whenaccount- theyconsiderthetaskto be gender-neutral.
formeris significantly
is
also
worth
that
noting
the
gender
informaabilityincreases,a comparablefindingis jpot
observedin rejectionof influence.In my tion was presentedwith minimal cues:
between subjectsknew thatthe partnerwas of the
view, this is relatedto differences
this
thetwomeasures.In linewithotherexpecta- oppositesex, but no itemsreinforcing
as
communication
hobbies
and
first
(such
tion statesresearch,I considerrejectionof
influenceto be the primaryindicatorof names)wereadded.
The design of these studies included a
perceivedcompetence.The measurehas the
version of the experimental
computerized
advantagesof being both an unobtrusive
used in expectationstates
setting
commonly
behavioral response (and thereforemore
As
a
research.
result,
findingsfrom the
likelyto reflecta person'strueassessments)
can easily be compared
and highlyreliable(becauseit is theresultof presentexperiments
made over severaltrials).Per- withotherworkon expectationstates,as I
observations
maineffectfromaccount- have done throughoutthis article. The
haps a significant
abilitywas observedin relativeabilitybutnot questionaboutthe standardsforcompetence
in influence
rejectionbecauseof thesubjects' that I used representsan additionto the
awareness,in Conditions(3) and questions commonlyasked in that work.
heightened
by requestthe Standardsweremeasureddirectly
(4), of whatwas beingassessedthrough
to
state
the
ofcorrect
ing
subjects
percentages
measure.As a result,theymayhave
auxiliary
a
that
for
definite
responses
they
required
consideredit desirableto lower the values
was
inference
of
The
underability.
question
in
theyreported.In view of thisdifference,
also
stood
the
and
readily
by
participants
thenextsectionI base myconclusionsabout
to
be
an
not
unobtrusive
instrument:
proved
on
the
results
perceivedcompetencemainly
of
who
even
those
were
any
subsequently
forrejectionof influence.
rejectedbecauseof suspicionwereawarethat
thisquestionwas centralto thestudy.
GENERAL DISCUSSION AND
These two experiments
investigateoppoCONCLUSIONS
site-sexdyads. Subjectswere informed
spewas of theopposite
In thisarticleI presenttheresultsfromtwo cificallythatthepartner
theyeitherwere
studieson the activationand use of gender- sex, whereason otherfactors

252

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY

intheamountandintensity
told thattheywere equal to the partneror genderdifferences
These features
of of work-related
stressthey experience.In
weregivenno information.
the situationcreateoptimumconditionsfor futureresearch, it would be useful to
linksbetweeninterpersonal
double
genderto become a salientvariable.In the investigate
of sex standardsand processes conceptualizedat
investigation
future,a morethorough
effectscould be achievedby studyingcon- otherlevels of analysis,fromindividualto
and macrostructural.
of organizational
textsin whichselfis pairedwitha partner
double standardsis also
eitherthe same or the oppositesex. Useful
Understanding
information
also could be obtained from important
forreasonsotherthantheirtheoretinwhichsex ofpartner
is unknown ical significance.For example, suppose it
conditions
thatmembers
ofa
because these conditionswould serve to becomeswidelyrecognized
address questionsabout the source of the social categoryare, or have been,commonly
double standard:do men set strictstandards disadvantagedin settingsinvolvingevaluathrough
theuse of a stricter
forwomen,do womenset lenientstandards tion,particularly
abilitystandard.How can this situationbe
formen,or do bothpracticesoccur?
on reversed?This is exactlythe questionthat
These studiesprovidekey information
actionprogramsaddress.Simply
the operationof double standards.Thereis, affirmative
an explicitlymore lenientstanhowever,stillmuchworkto do to understand introducing
this practice. For example, it would be dardforone categoryin orderto makeup for
worthwhileto study its occurrenceunder past wrongs is not the answer. Such an
of lesser
othervalues of sex linkageof task(particu- approachwouldlead to an inference
larlythe"feminine"task)and otherlevelsof abilityamongmembers
of thatcategory;this,
It would also be of interest
to in turn, would perpetuatethe inequality.
performance.
action programs
test whethergender-baseddouble standards Well-designedaffirmative
forlack of abilityconstitute
anotherstatus- arenotbasedon theimplementation
ofsucha
maintenance
practice.Finally,I shouldem- "reverse double standard." Instead they
phasize that the theorybehind this work includedemonstrations
ofabilitythatleaveno
concernsnot only gender but any status doibts about the superiorquality of the
to test chosenapplicants.
attribute.
Thus it wouldbe important
thetheoryin othercases, involvinga single
statuscharacteristic
as well as several.After
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MarthaFoschi is Professorof Sociologyat the University
as sourcesofbiases in abilityevaluation.
on genderand ethnicity
focuson statusprocesses,particularly
she has recentlycarriedout on
The two studiesreportedhere are part of a series of experiments
gender-based
doublestandards
for competence.