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August 03, 2010

Male modesty, a weakness for women

Although it is more politically correct to be a bit modest, men are rather expected to be confident & maybe a bit macho, in America. In the 21st century some “too modest” men might actually be penalized in their careers.

A scientific study was carried out by researchers at Rutgers' Department of Psychology on 132 female & 100 male volunteer students, who watched videotaped 15-minutes job interviews of males & females candidates. All job-seekers were actually actors that were told to give similar “modest” answers, as they were supposed to apply for a position that needed strong technical abilities & social skills.

Researchers wanted to find out which behavior would 've repercussions as Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, a doctoral candidate in Rutgers' Department of Psychology & study co-author, says that: “Women are allowed to be weak while this trait is strongly prohibited in men. By contrast, dominance is reserved for men & prohibited for women. Thus, gender stereotypes are comprised of four sets of rules & expectations for behavior consist of both 'shoulds' & 'should nots' for each gender.

The experiment did not trigger men discrimination as scientists expected, but Moss-Racusin speculates that this is caused by men's higher status compared to women, which allows modest men the benefit of doubt & are more easily accepted that dominant women.

According to Moss-Racusin, the applicants in the filmed interviews were judged equally competent, but the “modest” males were less liked, a sign of social backlash. Modesty was viewed as a sign of weakness, a low-status character trait for males that could adversely affect their employability or earnings potential. Modesty in women, however, was not viewed negatively nor was it linked to status.

For men & women, there are things they must & must not be,” she says. “Women must be communal & other-oriented, but they must not be dominant. Historically & cross-culturally, men 've been stereotyped as more agentic, that is, more independent & self-focused than women.

This study was a collaboration between Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, graduate fellow Julie E. Phelan & Professor Laurie A. Rudman. “When Men Break the Gender Rules: Status Incongruity & Backlash Against Modest Men” was published in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity.

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