"The War on Men": Gendered Reactions to Anti-Male Sexism Claims and the Moderating Role of Group Identification

Katherine Dawn Schad, Wesleyan University


This research examines how men and women react to men who claim to be victims of anti-male bias. While a number of studies have revealed that claiming discrimination is associated with social costs, (Garcia, Reser, Amo, Redersdorff, & Branscombe, 2005; Kaiser & Miller, 2001), other research suggests that group identification increases perceptions of bias against the ingroup (Major, Quinton, & McCoy, 2002) and that strongly identified group members respond particularly positively to ingroup claimants (Abrams, Marques, Bown, & Henson, 2000; Branscombe, Wann, Noel, & Coleman, 1993; Kaiser, Hagiwara, Malahy, & Wilkins, 2009). Therefore, we designed Study 1 to examine how gender identification moderates reactions toward a man who failed to receive a promotion and either claims the outcome was due to anti-male sexism or another external factor. Consistent with previous work, participants in the discrimination claim condition viewed the target significantly less positively than participants in the no-claim condition. Additionally, men in the discrimination claim condition perceived the claimant more positively the more strongly they identified with their gender group. Women, however, showed the opposite pattern: the more they identified with their gender group, the more negatively they perceived the male claimant. Study 2 revealed that, compared to strongly gender-identified men, strongly identified women perceived the claimant as significantly more sexist and reported more negative behavioral intentions toward the claimant. We discuss how this pattern may perpetuate gender inequality.


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