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The ambivalent sexism inventory : a social psychological evaluation

Masser, Barbara (1998) The ambivalent sexism inventory : a social psychological evaluation. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94511) (KAR id:94511)

Language: English

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The aim of the thesis is to establish the (statistical) validity and predictive utility of the Hostile Sexism (HS) and Benevolent Sexism (BS) subscales of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI). The thesis investigates whether scores on the HS and BS scales can tell us who will discriminate against women.

An analysis of the literature suggests that, as in racism research, there is now a discrepancy between attitudes towards women (gauged on traditional measures) and discriminatory behaviour. Specifically, attitudes appear more egalitarian whilst behavioural measures still indicate discrimination. One explanation given for this discrepancy focuses on the attitude measures used. The literature suggests that if ‘contemporary’ attitudes are assessed then an attitude-behaviour link should be observed. One measure designed to assess these ‘contemporary attitudes’ is the ASI, consisting of the HS and BS scales.

The empirical work begins (Study 1, 3 samples, N=1325) with an assessment of the psychometric properties and the appropriateness of the ASI for use in a British context and establishes the construct validity of the measures. Studies Two (N=61) and Three (N=47) investigate hostile and benevolent sexism using experimental designs and a social cognition approach (reaction time measures). The results of these suggest that hostile and benevolent sexism may be directed towards a particular ‘type’ of women and that hostile sexists may engage in stereotype suppression. The fourth study (N=58) investigates the ‘stereotype suppression’ proposition within an experimental design. Studies Five to Eight (N’s=86, 85, 57 and 71) focus on the subtyping hypothesis suggested by the results of Studies Two to Four and evaluate the implications of HS and BS scale scores for more overt responses. These establish that under specific conditions the scores on the HS scale do predict who will engage in discriminatory behaviour towards women. In addition the results suggest that high hostile sexists may apply different norms to their behaviour than to other people’s. Scores on the BS scale are related to more positive attitudes towards women who fit the ‘traditional’ subtype.

It is concluded that whilst both the HS and BS scales of the ASI are statistically valid, the HS scale has, at present, the superior predictive utility. Under specific conditions scores on the HS scale relate to a number of indices of discrimination against women. In contrast, scores on the BS scale only relate to more positive evaluations of ‘traditional’ women. Directions for future research are outlined.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94511
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: prejudice; discrimination
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 12 May 2023 14:30 UTC
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 14:30 UTC
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