Researchers say smiles, word choice show what type of sexism men display

If you want to know what a man's true attitude towards the female sex is, carefully watch how he smiles and chats to her. This advice is gleaned from a study by Jin Goh and Judith Hall of Northeastern University in the US, published in Springer's journal Sex Roles. It sheds light on how sexism subtly influences social interaction between men and woman.

Even though discrimination against is thought to have decreased over the past six decades in the United States, instances of are not difficult to find. Experts believe that such can be both hostile and benevolent. Hostile sexism is an antipathy or dislike of women, and often comes to the fore as dominant and derogatory behavior in an effort to maintain power. Benevolent sexism is less negative on the surface and more paternalistic, reflecting a chivalrous and subjectively positive view of women. Men who demonstrate this "well-intentioned" sexism see women as warm and pure yet helpless, incompetent and in need of men's protection.

Goh and Hall wanted to investigate how men's word choice, attitudes and smiles show the type of sexism they sometimes subtly show when interacting with women they have just met. Theirs is the first study to capture both nonverbal and verbal expressions of benevolent and hostile sexism during mixed-gender interaction, and how these two types of sexist beliefs are expressed differently.

The researchers carefully examined the of 27 pairs of American undergraduate men and women. They were filmed while they played a trivia game together and then chatted afterwards. Observers then scrutinized their interaction by reporting their impressions and counting certain nonverbal cues such as smiles. Word count software was also used to further analyze the content.

The more hostile sexist men were perceived as less approachable and less friendly in their speech. Men with more hostile sexism also smiled less during the interaction. In turn, those who displayed benevolent sexism were rated to be more approachable, warmer, friendlier and more likely to smile. They also used more positive emotional words and were overall more patient while waiting for a woman to answer trivia questions.

"While many people are sensitive to sexist verbal offenses, they may not readily associate sexism with warmth and friendliness," argues Goh. "Unless sexism is understood as having both hostile and benevolent properties, the insidious nature of will continue to be one of the driving forces behind gender inequality in our society."

"Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep's clothing that perpetuates support for among women at an interpersonal level," elaborates Hall. "These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing, and harmless."

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More information: Goh, J. X. & Hall, J.A. (2015). Nonverbal and Verbal Expressions of Men's Sexism in Mixed-Gender Interactions, Sex Roles. DOI: 10.1007/s11199-015-0451
Journal information: Sex Roles

Provided by Springer
Citation: Researchers say smiles, word choice show what type of sexism men display (2015, March 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from
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Mar 09, 2015
Hope this was funded by private funds. It would be insane using tax money for this "research" where the USA has millions of children starving.

Mar 09, 2015
But do they ever NOT display sexism? The way this reads is that basically every man is a sexist, and the only difference is if he's hostile or not.

"27 pairs of American undergraduate men and women" 54 people do not, a statistically relevant sample set make. This is basically just a mid-term paper, I dunno why this is in a science journal.

Also your reference to the study is a bad link.

Mar 09, 2015
This so called "research" reeks of predefined agendas from the "researchers" - or should that read "sophistry merchants"?

This study should be repeated with a much more fine grained set of alternatives for the male behaviours. Also let's throw out any predefined notions about certain male behaviours being negative - hardly scientific is it?

These researchers display ideological bias reminiscent of Lysenkoism and its anti scientific influence in the Soviet Union, together with an obvious leaning towards the "nurture is everything" dogma that has been discredited many times over. The anti science influence of feminism needs divorcing from public funding.

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