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Deconstructing dependence and gender concerns in men's hostile sexism

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posted on 2023-01-23, 23:54 authored by Molly Fisher

Hostile sexism describes attitudes characterising women as deliberately attempting to emotionally exploit men and challenge men’s power. Men who endorse hostile sexism often employ negative strategies to reduce any risk of exploitation and feelings of dependence, such as withdrawing from difficult conversations. However, no research has identified whether this occurs due to concerns about depending on women or concerns about depending on others more generally. My thesis tests how men’s endorsement of hostile sexism is associated with experiences of seeking support across different types of support providers (e.g., men vs. women) and contexts of dependence (e.g., romantic partners vs. non-romantic close others). Chapter Two tested support-seeking in heterosexual people across a context of romantic dependence (i.e., relying on a partner; Study 1) and non-romantic dependence (i.e., relying on friends of mixed genders; Study 2). Across both studies, men who endorsed hostile sexism were more resistant to seek support from people they were more dependent on—but there was no evidence that resistance emerged more strongly for relationships with women (vs. men). Chapter Three presents an observational study testing links between people’s endorsement of hostile sexism and their patterns of support behaviour from an unknown person to accomplish a joint task. Results did not reveal any evidence that situational dependence (i.e., not having the resources to complete a task) was associated with expected patterns of support seeking by heterosexual men who endorsed hostile sexism. Instead, men who endorsed hostile sexism were generally resistant to support when paired with other men rather than women. Chapter Four focused on romantic dependence by testing whether heterosexual men who endorsed hostile sexism received less support from their female romantic partners over time. Dyadic analyses indicated that men’s hostile sexism was linked with lower perceptions of partner support and partners’ reports of providing less support. In sum, testing the characteristics of men’s endorsement of hostile sexism by varying the dependence and gender of relationships identifies: (1) that men’s endorsement of hostile sexism is personally costly across a variety of relationships, and (2) that research often focuses on the gendered dynamic of men’s hostile sexism (e.g., fears of exploitation by women) when negativity is more attributable to situations of dependence than gender.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Hammond, Matt; Wilson, Marc