FEMINIST IDENTITY AND ACTION: EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF STATUS LEGITIMIZING BELIEFS
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFeminism is an evolving movement for gender equality that has been extensively studied by the social sciences. One large sect of feminism research is the reasons why people chose or chose not to take on the feminist label. This is an important question because those who take on the label are more likely to engage in collective actions towards gender equality. Previous research has explored how status legitimizing beliefs (SLBs), or ideas that justify social systems of hierarchy as merit-based, impact Whites and men when presented with threats to their high status. The present research aimed to fill a gap in the literature by investigating how priming SLBs impacts people’s willingness to endorse movements that support and promote gender equality. Participants were randomly assigned to either an SLB priming group or a control group and reported their feminist identity, ideology, and willingness to confront sexism. I predicted that those in the SLB priming condition would be less likely than those in the control condition to endorse feminist ideology and action. The results failed to support this prediction, showing that the SLB prime had no effect on feminist identification, endorsement of feminist attitudes, willingness to engage in collective action, or willingness to intervene during sexist encounters. The priming task may have been too subtle to have an effect, or the sample may already be feminists who reject SLBs. Future research should replicate this study with a less subtle priming task to investigate if SLBs in the context of globalization and social media culture have an impact of people’s willingness to identify as a feminist and engage in collective action.