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Prejudices, Interpersonal confrontation, Sexism, Social psychology


This paper examines how perceived pervasiveness of prejudice differentially affects high and low status group members’ support for a low status group member who confronts. In Experiment 1 (N = 228), men and women read a text describing sexism as rare or as pervasive and subsequently indicated their support for a woman who confronted or did not confront a sexist remark. Experiment 2 (N = 324) specified the underlying process using a self-affirmation manipulation. Results show that men were more supportive of confrontation when sexism was perceived to be rare than when it was pervasive. By contrast, women tended to prefer confrontation when sexism was pervasive relative to when it was rare. Personal self-affirmation decreased men’s and increased women’s support for confrontation when prejudice was rare, suggesting that men’s and women’s support for confrontation when prejudice is rare is driven by personal impression management considerations. Implications for understanding how members of low and high status groups respond to prejudice are discussed.


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Original published in British Journal of Social Psychology, v. 55, p. 27-43 and is available online at:



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