An ambivalent alliance. Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality

Am Psychol. 2001 Feb;56(2):109-18.


The equation of prejudice with antipathy is challenged by recent research on sexism. Benevolent sexism (a subjectively favorable, chivalrous ideology that offers protection and affection to women who embrace conventional roles) coexists with hostile sexism (antipathy toward women who are viewed as usurping men's power). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, first validated in U.S. samples, has been administered to over 15,000 men and women in 19 nations. Hostile and benevolent sexism are complementary, cross-culturally prevalent ideologies, both of which predict gender inequality. Women, as compared with men, consistently reject hostile sexism but often endorse benevolent sexism (especially in the most sexist cultures). By rewarding women for conforming to a patriarchal status quo, benevolent sexism inhibits gender equality. More generally, affect toward minority groups is often ambivalent, but subjectively positive stereotypes are not necessarily benign.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Prejudice*
  • Women's Rights*