Self-entitled women are more likely to endorse benevolent sexism, study finds

Woman looking up by SakuraiatsushiA high sense of entitlement — a core facet of narcissism — disposes women to internalize patriarchal beliefs, such as that women need to be protected by men or that women are naturally good caretakers (rather than naturally good CEOs.)

That was the key finding of research published September 26 in the scientific journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“This research was designed to test a central part of Ambivalent Sexism Theory that has not been previously examined — whether or not benevolent sexism is attractive to women because of its promises of benefits to individual women (under the conditions of being cared for and provided for by a man within an intimate relationship),” lead researcher Matthew D. Hammond of the University of Auckland told PsyPost.

Ambivalent Sexism Theory holds that stereotypes about women come in two main forms: a hostile version and a benevolent version.

Hostile sexism is overtly negative and includes beliefs such as women being intellectually inferior to men. This form of sexism is easy to identify, and is also known as misogyny.

Benevolent sexism, on the other hand, is more controversial. It appears to be positive toward women but implicitly suggests that members of “the fairer sex” are dependent on men. The idea that a woman needs and deserves to be financially supported by a man is an example of benevolent sexism. Kathleen Connelly of the University of Florida has summarized benevolent sexism as the belief that “women are wonderful, but weak.”

For their study, Hammond and his colleagues had more than 2,700 women and 1,600 men from New Zealand complete psychological evaluations to measure their sense of entitlement and adherence to sexist beliefs about women. The beliefs included statements such as, “Women should be cherished and protected by men” and “Women, compared to men, tend to have a superior moral sensibility.”

This group of more than 4,400 individuals was tested again 1 year later.

The researchers found a sense of entitlement in women was associated with stronger endorsement of benevolent sexism. Women who believed they deserved more out of life were more likely to endorse benevolent sexist beliefs and adherence to these beliefs increased over time. The association between a sense of entitlement in men and endorsement of benevolent sexism was weak, in contrast, and did not increase over time.

Hammond told PsyPost that the findings supported Ambivalent Sexism Theory.

“It tells us that one factor underlying women’s endorsement of sexist attitudes toward women is the propensity to feel more deserving than others and wanting to feel special,” he explained. “This also gives us insight into showing how benevolent sexism is subjectively positive but is not actually a ‘pro-social’ set of attitudes.”

“Even though both men and women have these kind of ‘entitled’ tendencies to be reward-oriented and status-focused — the ‘cherish and protect’ attitudes of benevolent sexism seem to take advantage of these qualities in women only. This is an example of how benevolent sexism is an insidious set of ideas which appear to exploit ‘niceness’ to encourage women to hold more sexist beliefs.”

The research found a clear link between psychological entitlement and the endorsement of benevolent sexism. However, Hammond cautioned that the finding should not be extrapolated outside of its cultural context.

“One central and important limitation is that our research was conducted in a relatively egalitarian country in which hostile and aggressive forms of sexism, as well as overt forms of discrimination and violence toward women, are relatively less prevalent and relatively less tolerated,” Hammond told PsyPost. “Other research has shown that when these kinds of threats are salient, one reason women agree with benevolent sexism is a self-protection motivation, because it promotes the care and safeguarding of women against danger.”

“This means that future research may find that the underlying factors of women’s endorsement of sexism differs between countries according to the levels of egalitarianism/gender equality in those countries,” he added. “In relatively egalitarian countries, it may be the benefits promised by benevolent sexism, but in relatively less egalitarian countries, it may be the protection promised by benevolent sexism.”

The study was co-authored by Chris G. Sibley and Nickola C. Overall of the University of Auckland.


  1. actanonverba8 on

    Oh boy! So much I could say about this, but no sense in going on a soapbox. I´ll just mention one aspect and say that it would be good if researchers could explore the connections between female sense of entitlement and society´s acceptance of male disposability. It´s telling that even when research acknowledges certain attitudes that females have that are harmful, everything is couched in terms of “how it effects women negatively.” That “sense of entitlement” to give women special treatment is a society and culture-wide thing and men are neglected and sacrificed at the altar of woman because of it.

  2. Just posting. on

    So according to this study women are incompetent? If something that benefits men and hurts women is called sexism, why refer to something that hurts men and benefits women as benevolent? That would imply that men are fully in charge and women are incapable of making decisions for themselves. They have no independence and no accountability.

    Yet the majority of college graduates are women. Women represent the majority in the work force and the voting population. Would any society give this much power to children?

    Call it what it is, sexism. There’s no such thing as benevolent sexism.

    • This is how it works.

      Everything is judged in relation to how it affects women, because women are wonderful but also weak.

      Therefore anything that’s derogatory to women(while elevating men) is hostile sexism and anything that’s derogatory to men(while elevating women) is benevolent sexism(against women.)

      Ironically this research is a perfect example of what it’s trying to examine.

      The hand draws itself.

      • I agree.
        I think this article should have touched on how “benevolent” sexism also hurts men. It sets them up to be emotionally and financially abused. It does make them seem more disposable and less valuable. That is wrong. I don’t think I am inherently worth more than any other person and I’d be ashamed of the thought if it so much as crossed my mind.

        I say ALSO hurts men because “benevolent” sexism also is ultimately harmful to women. I believe Nietzche said it best when he penned, “He who does not struggle for his bread and does not believe that his actions possess any ultimate significance will live as children live: childlike.”

        —Daybreak, §280 (edited).

        In a word, arrested development.

        But I do think it is good that this article is at least making the point that the belief women are inherently superior is still sexism, just like belief in the “noble savage” is still racism. You’re still making judgements about someone based on how they were born, not what they do, how they behave and treat others, which is all that should count.

        • “I say ALSO hurts men because “benevolent” sexism also is ultimately harmful to women. ”

          And hostile sexism (towards women) is still harmful to men. This is true in that it paints men as evil, monstrous sociopaths. Oh, that’s right… defining sexism in relation to men isn’t allowed. After all, it isn’t hostile sexism towards men, it’s benevolent sexism towards women… it’s ALWAYS got to be towards women. But that, in itself, is hostile sexism towards men, is it not?

          “But I do think it is good that this article is at least making the point that the belief women are inherently superior is still sexism,”

          It is, but it’s still also demonstrating that same sexism by insisting on framing everything in relation to women, and only women, as if how the world affects people only matters regarding how it affects women, and men can toss off.

  3. actanonverba8 on

    According to this article and these researchers, whites in apartheid South Africa who felt superior to blacks and felt that blacks were there to serve them were, themselves, the real victims in that system.

    The dehumanizing attitudes toward blacks and the subsequent
    dehumanizing policies and cultural norms that followed were bad, not
    because how blacks suffered as a result, but, because those whites might
    have felt less of a sense of self-efficacy.

    Great job people. Acknowledge female sense of entitlement, then interpret the results and write an article that ENDORSES female sense of entitlement and male disposability. Looking forward to the next article: “How muggers are the real victims of muggings.”

  4. One thing……aside from any problems of bias, this article claims that “hostile” sexism, such as believing that women are intellectually inferior to men, is also known as “misogyny”. That is simply wrong, and is a re-definition of words favored by dishonest feminists and sociologists that put their activism and ideology before their honesty.

    Misogyny is the hatred of females. That is what it means. Hatred. Even if someone really did believe that women were intellectually inferior, that does not automatically become hatred or even dislike, or even necessarily “hostile”. Of course, such a belief might well seem hostile” to the person viewed as inferior, but nothing can be inferred except in individual cases. I believe that I am intellectually superior to many different life forms and even a lot of individual people. This is not hatred. I am intellectually superior to my dog. I have no hatred, dislike, or hostility toward him. (oops, now some gender activist will dishonestly claim that I compared women to dogs!) Now, on average, a claim of male intellectual superiority is likely to be a mistaken belief. Promoting such beliefs to maintain control of others, while knowing they are false, could be considered an act of misogyny. But that would require individual research to show, or else mind-reading, which is what this article chooses to use.

    • Exactly right about sexism/misogyny – if misogyny was just sexism, we wouldn’t need 2 words. Feminists say misogyny when they want to imply “hatred of women”.

      If they then can’t take responsibility for what they’ve said – and deny that they’ve said it, then it is the most pathetic dishonesty.

      But why is a Psychology journal discussing “sexism”? And as though there were a clear definition? The word depends entirely on social attitudes to gender roles and abilities. It is those attitudes psychologists might want to study, not to assume their validity…

      • In your opinion, could a journal discuss “Intelligence” or “Personality?” There aren’t clear definitions of those, either. Psychologist develop constructs to help explain what they see. Some of those constructs are useful and get widely adopted. Some, not so much.

        • Excellent point. Neither are clearly defined (nor “consciousness”) so we have to posit a (perhaps slightly artificial) definition to give us something to study

          The results can be interesting. IQ tests are nonsense, yet the results of them (esp. divided into different types of ability: spatial, numerical) can be interesting.

          But people use the word “intelligence” in lots of ways, not all of them coherent with each other (as with Wittgenstein’s observations of the word “game”) No definition of the word will really suffice

          It’s a slightly boring point I’m making, but we have to recognize that the limitations of our definition will be limitations on what we can learn. It creates a good headline when someone claims to have learnt something about Intelligence, personality, or hatred for that matter, but there’s always an arbitrary definition underlying it…

  5. Nicolai Rublev on

    As a New Zealander I find it extremely disconcerting that anyone would give sexist women a “pass” for some reason. Sexism is a constricting social force on both men and women, if entitled women endorse “benevolent sexism” that eventually hurts them then what about what we tell our boys?

    We tell them to not cry, toughen up, be a real hard man, and then wonder why they die and commit suicide in such large numbers in comparison to women when they grow up. If that is “male privilege” then I think feminist sociologists are in serious need of a psychologist of their own.

    • Let’s face it. Women turn into biitches if you don’t keep them in check: MANHOOD101. C O M

      • Nope, it’s not any man’s job to keep women in check, if you find the need to keep your fellow humans in check you might want to join the kindergarten teaching profession.

        • you’re a scared little biiitch white knight cowering before women. time to get your balls back you scared little biitch lol!

          • Nothing like using sexual shaming tactics designed to shame men back into their role to prove you’re a real MRA, and not some feminist agent provocateur attempting to make MRA’s look bad.

          • I’ve heard about your “live debates”. They are little more than the same childish taunting and name calling you’re demonstrating now.

          • said the scared fuucking faaaggot keyboard warrior lolol! 🙂 ur panties wet little girl? LOL!

    • To read this article, one would never know sexism harms men. Sexism, in this article, is entirely framed in how it affects women. Furthermore, the definitions use sexist assumptions about men (they view women as weak and dependent on men), and never considers the posibility they are valued more, hence why men are expected to not only protect themselves, but also throw themselves in front of women to protect their lives.

      And all that is part of the problem. The marginalization of men’s sacrifice and the demonization of their motives has become the new sexism, and but how that can be painted as harmful to women seems to be the only concern these people have.

    • Hi, Dad. Actually the sky can appear to be many colors, and actually it IS invisible, not blue. Also, no scientific stats or evidence show the Earth to be round. It’s actually very lumpy and roughly-shaped, making it most decidedly not round.

      I still love you though, Dad. I hope you and your latest husband are doing well.

      Your loving Son, Idiot Jr.

  6. Certainly explains why feminists seem to think promoting affirmative action and opposing family court reform and equal custody, are good ideas.

  7. Why are psychology journals publishing papers studying “sexism?? However you define a sexist attitude (and their definition is bound to be random), it is a value-laden – and therefore completely unscientific – concept.

    This is simply a reflection of the fact that a large number of social-psychologists themselves all hold similar prejudices & political viewpoints

    Do psychologists study what is “old-fashioned”, or what people *perceive* to be old fashioned? Surely the latter, because if they use judgemental words they’re NOT DOING THEIR JOB..

    So what’s the difference?

  8. David C. Morrow on

    Of course. The point of female personality is to evade responsibility while creating a facade of suffering and struggling to be autonomous.

  9. politicalcynic on

    I find the way this was postured a bit odd. The information is presented as somehow being proof of “patriarchy”. In fact, I would argue it is not. what it demonstrates is that women will accept sexism that forces MEN into specific roles, as long as those roles benefit WOMEN. The victim in this paradigm is not “the poor woman”, and this author, in presenting it as such, is guilty of just the sort of “damseling” being discussed int he article.

    The primary victims of “damseling” are men. More men in the US are raped than women-as recently reported in The Guardian-but they have virtually no services. Men are victimized at a rate of 800K plus PER YEAR by DV in the US-they have no services. Men represent 90 percent of the homeless and 90 percent of suicides but most social services are focused on women and children. Men are also more likely than women to be victims of violent crimes-but our entire social focus is on violence against women.

    Damseling in our current society is an artifact of feminism. MOST if not ALL feminist “causes” are based on the need for WOMEN to be “protected” and “cherished”, on images of women as the “only ones” who can “create life” (although aside from the Virgin Mary I am unaware of any woman who has had a child without a man being involved somewhere….).

    And the losers are the men-who receive prison sentences that are long than women who commit the same crime, who are sexually assaulted with no resources to help them, who are victims of domestic abuse with no services to aid them, who are homeless, who are crime victims, and who are expected to “man up” because the resources are going, in almost their entirety, to “protect women” from those “evil menzzz of patriarchy”.(The awful E-mops we hear so much about).

    The “dameseling” phenomenon is NOT an artifact of patriarchy. The current social construct of the “damsel” is an artifact of feminism-which is based entirely on the perpetual myth of woman as victim. All women, no matter what they do, are “victims of the patriarchy”. This is the fundamental tenet of feminism. Women bear no responsibility for the actions or choices, and if those choices are bad-it is still the fault of the “menzzz”. Take a look at ANY major feminist “cause” and you will see underlying it the concept of “woman to be protected as a damsel in distress”.

    I am troubled by the fact that the author of this piece tries to posture female sexism as somehow being “patriarchal” because, once again, it gives women a “bye”, an “out”, a method by which they can avoid being held responsible for their own sexist behavior.

    How about this: Sexism is sexism. Attempting to blame men, patriarchy or anything OTHER THAN sexist women for their own sexism is simply wrong. In other words, “woman up”.

    • Indigo Lamprey on

      I prefer to blame the Illuminati. If we’re going to blame some fictitious group, I’d prefer mine to be more interesting.

  10. So basically it’s saying that women are not only more sexist, self-focussed and couldn’t care less about the requirements of males unless it was to their own advantage. How about that, and feminists still claim that only men are sexist while all the time they were the extremists all along. What level of hypocrisy is that ?