The influence of primed social roles on gender differences in conformity
An examination of the literature on gender differences in conformity reveals a string of inconsistent results (e.g., Cooper, 1979; Eagly, 1978; Eagly & Carli, 1981). Some studies support the idea that women conform more than men, while other studies find no gender differences. The current research examined the influence of participant gender, primed social roles, and gender role on conformity. It was hypothesized that women would conform more when primed with a communal social role compared to an agentic social role or a neutral prime, while men would conform less when primed with an agentic social role compared to a communal social role or a neutral prime. Studies 1 and 2 provided tests of the manipulations to be used in the primary studies. Study 3 primed social roles using a writing prime. The results revealed that individuals with gender-incongruent gender roles (i.e., masculine women and feminine men) exhibited more conformity on one item. However, the results did not support the primary hypothesis. Study 4 was a conceptual replication of Study 3 using a questionnaire prime. The results did not support the primary hypothesis, however an unexpected pattern of conformity emerged. Individuals with gender-incongruent gender roles showed an atypical pattern of conformity behavior when they were primed with an agentic social role. On one item men and women with gender-incongruent gender roles conformed more, whereas on two items, men with feminine gender roles conformed less than other groups. These results highlight the importance of examining gender roles in future conformity research. Overall, the results support recent research that indicates a subtle change in women's gender roles (Diekman & Eagly, 2000; Diekman & Goodfriend, 2006).