Gender and social influence: A social psychological analysis

Alice H. Eagly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


Men and women are believed to differ in how influential and easily influenced they are: Men are thought to be more influential, and women more easily influenced. In natural settings, men and women tend to differ in these ways, but these differences stem largely from formal status inequalities by which men are more likely than women to have high-status roles. Status is important because of the legitimate authority vested in high-status roles. Within appropriate limits, people of higher status are believed to have the right to make demands of those of lower status, and people of lower status are expected to comply with these demands. Yet, small, stereotypic sex differences in leadership and social influence generally have been found in laboratory experiments and other small-group settings where men and women have equal formal status. These small sex differences may occur because experience with hierarchical social structures in which men have higher status creates expectancies about male and female behavior, and these expectancies affect social interaction in ways that foster behavior that confirms the expectancies. Sex differences that occur in the laboratory as well as natural settings may stem from social structural factors-namely, from the existing distributions of women and men into social roles. (77 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-981
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1983


  • social structures & status, male vs female social influence, literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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