Communion and agency judgments of women and men as a function of role information and response format

Janine Bosak*, Sabine Sczesny, Alice H. Eagly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


In past research, the presentation of men and women in the same social role has eliminated gender stereotypical ratings of greater agency and lesser communion in men compared with women. The social-role interpretation of such findings is challenged from the shifting-standards perspective, which suggests that the application of within-sex judgmental standards to men and women in roles may have masked underlying gender stereotypes. To clarify this issue, 256 participants judged an average man or woman portrayed as an employee, homemaker, or without role information on agentic and communal traits. These judgments were given on subjective scales that were vulnerable to shifting standards (trait ratings) or on common rule measures that restrain shifting standards (estimates of test scores). As predicted from the shifting-standards perspective, judgments of greater agency in men than women disappeared in the presence of role information only on the subjective scales, which enabled shifts to within-sex standards. As predicted from the social-role perspective, judgments of greater communion in women than men disappeared in the presence of the homemaker role on both the subjective and common rule measures. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding judgments of role occupants' agency and communion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1155
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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