Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Open Access Thesis


Sexism--Public opinion; Sex role--Public opinion; Threat (Psychology); Social norms;


System Justification Theory (SJT; Jost & Banaji, 1994) predicts that people tend to accept and endorse the current socioeconomic and political arrangement when they feel threatened. Based on SJT, women should support traditional gender roles and benevolent sexism when they feel threatened because these system-justifying beliefs can mitigate anxiety and distress elicited by existential threats. In the current study, female participants’ responses to a control threat were measured by an author-generated scale on attitudes toward traditional gender roles for women and Benevolent Sexism Scale (Glick & Fiske, 1996). In a community sample (but not in a student sample), participants whose personal control was threatened were more accepting toward benevolent sexism when compared with those whose control was not threatened. Participants in the control-threat condition also tended to express more traditional gender attitudes for women. In both community and student samples, those with stronger system-justification beliefs also tended to endorse more traditional gender roles and benevolent sexism; they also tended to be less gender-equality oriented, more politically conservative, and more religious. The effects of control threat in the community sample were not mediated by gender-specific system justification or moderated by gender identification. Based on the Compensatory Control Model (CCM; Kay et al., 2009), it is possible that benevolent sexism and traditional gender roles are perceived as a source of compensating control, which is in line with the protective and caring tone implied by benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996; 2001). The results suggest that control threat may lead women to accept the status quo and internalize gender inequality, rather than defending gender egalitarianism.

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen Harton, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 77 pages)



File Format