Gender Stereotypes Have Changed: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of U.S. Public Opinion Polls From 1946 to 2018

Alice H. Eagly*, Christa Nater, David I. Miller, Michèle Kaufmann, Sabine Sczesny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

This meta-analysis integrated 16 nationally representative U.S. public opinion polls on gender stereotypes (N = 30,093 adults), extending from 1946 to 2018, a span of seven decades that brought considerable change in gender relations, especially in women's roles. In polls inquiring about communion (e.g., affectionate, emotional), agency (e.g., ambitious, courageous), and competence (e.g., intelligent, creative), respondents indicated whether each trait is more true of women or men, or equally true of both. Women's relative advantage in communion increased over time, but men's relative advantage in agency showed no change. Belief in competence equality increased over time, along with belief in female superiority among those who indicated a sex difference in competence. Contemporary gender stereotypes thus convey substantial female advantage in communion and a smaller male advantage in agency but also gender equality in competence along with some female advantage. Interpretation emphasizes the origins of gender stereotypes in the social roles of women and men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Psychologist
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Agency
  • Communion
  • Competence
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Public opinion polls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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