First Advisor

Walter Klopfer and Max R. Reed

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology






Women -- Psychology, Sex role, Aggressiveness, Success



Physical Description

1 online resource (79 pages)


In this study, it was proposed that the extent to which an individual accepts the collection of attitudes, mannerisms, and abilities the culture endorses as being feminine or masculine (which we are referring to as sex-role orientation) is related to the appearance of inhibiting fears of social rejection and uneasiness about one’s femininity (which we refer to as the need or motive to avoid success). We further hypothesized that women interested in achievement, being less strongly sex-typed, would feel deviant and exposed as women and would be likely to place a premium on the maintenance of other feminine attributes.

Ever since Freud’s time, the suppression of aggression has been identified as the very essence of femininity. This pinpointing of aggression as a particularly differentiating quality between male and female has been maintained by some to the present. We proposed that this particularly feminine quality (which we refer to as fear of aggression) would appear more strongly in masculinely-oriented women.

Horner proposed in her original study that the motive to Avoid Success is a psychological barrier to achievement in women. When aroused, the motive to avoid success is a most effective suppressant of performance in a competitive situation (especially if the competitor is masculine). This finding raised the suspicion in our minds that it might be the aggressive qualities inherent in competition that makes it seem especially incompatible with femininity. The aggressiveness of competition, of course, resides in the implicit set to defeat another person, to overpower an adversary, and to gain the psychological advantage. In order to obtain a high grade or graduate with distinction or secure the best job, you must defeat a peer.

We hypothesized finally, that not only would fear of aggression and Motive to Avoid Success (M-S) each be related to sex-role orientation, but that these two inhibitors would be positively correlated with each other.

Our Ss were 173 white college women from introductory psychology classes at Portland state University. To test our hypotheses that inhibition of aggression and Motive to Avoid Success would each be related to an individual's sex-role orientation, we used the following measures: The Gough femininity-masculinity scale and Franck Drawing Completion test to assess manifest and latent levels of M-F respectively; Horner's thematic cues to elicit Motive to Avoid Success; and a tachistoscopically-presented series of visual stimuli to assess the Ss tendency to inhibit aggression.

Results indicated that fear of aggression is related to sex-role orientation in the expected direction, i.e., more masculinely-oriented women appear more likely to suppress aggression.

The M-S was also related to a particular constellation of sex-role orientations but not the expected set. Unlike the fear of aggression, high M-S was related primarily to those individuals who held masculine orientations at the manifest level only.

Considering that both M-S and fear of aggression were related to masculine orientations in women, it was puzzling that these two measures were negatively correlated.


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