Benevolent Sexism, Attachment, and Chivalry: Examining the Role of Unfulfilled Needs in Contexts of Dependence
Previous research demonstrate links between men’s and women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism and the provision/acceptance of chivalrous behaviours that increase women’s dependence on men. Research also shows that men who are relatively more anxiously attached also tend to be more endorsing of benevolent sexism as it facilitates dependence and fulfilment of relational needs. Thus, men’s preoccupations with satisfying their relational needs should heighten their tendency to behave chivalrously. This thesis examined whether attachment anxiety moderates the link between individual’s endorsement of benevolent sexism and their provision/acceptance of dependency-oriented support—behaviours that emphasise men’s high status and women’s dependence. This study also tested whether men providing, and women accepting support predicts fulfilment of relational needs. Study 1 and 2 (N = 354) examined links between endorsement of benevolent sexism and dependency-oriented dating behaviours in online samples. Results replicated the existing link between men’s endorsement of benevolent sexism and dependency-oriented support, but did not lend support for the moderating role of attachment anxiety. In Study 3, romantic couples (N = 158) discussed personal goals with one another and coders observed levels of dependency-oriented support provision and acceptance. The relationship between benevolent sexism and dependency-oriented support for men was once again replicated. Novel interactions also emerged which suggests that holding derogatory beliefs about women may also motivate men’s dependency-oriented support giving. Predictions about the role of attachment anxiety and need fulfilment produced unexpected findings demonstrating that it may be a lack of avoidant rather than attachment anxiety that moderates the relationship between benevolent sexism and dependency-oriented support. These studies illustrate that chivalrous, dependency-oriented behaviours cannot be examined in isolation from beliefs about gender roles, relational schemas, and context.