Curvilinear Sexism and Its Links to Men's Perceived Mate Value

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2022 Apr;48(4):516-533. doi: 10.1177/01461672211009726. Epub 2021 Apr 23.


We tested the novel hypothesis that men lower in status-linked variables-that is, subjective social status and perceived mate value-are relatively disinclined to offset their high hostile sexism with high benevolent sexism. Findings revealed that mate value, but not social status, moderates the hostile-benevolent sexism link among men: Whereas men high in perceived mate value endorse hostile and benevolent sexism linearly across the attitude range, men low in mate value show curvilinear sexism, characterized by declining benevolence as hostility increases above the midpoint. Study 1 (N = 15,205) establishes the curvilinear sexism effect and shows that it is stronger among men than women. Studies 2 (N = 328) and 3 (N = 471) show that the curve is stronger among men low versus high in perceived mate value, and especially if they lack a serious relationship partner (Study 3). Discussion considers the relevance of these findings for understanding misogyny.

Keywords: ambivalent sexism; benevolent sexism; hostile sexism; mate value; social status.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Female
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Men
  • Sexism*