The Price of Violating Expectations: Penalties Assessed against Men and Women Presidential Candidates
2019 American Democracy Fellowship
Women presidential candidates face a double bind because expectations for leaders and expectations for women often conflict, yet they seem to be held to both. This research project looks at what happens when presidential candidates fail to live up to voter expectations and whether the negative effects of such failings are greater for women than for men candidates. Specifically, this project explores whether women presidential candidates are more strongly penalized than men presidential candidates when their behavior fails to match the behavior expected of leaders and when their behavior fails to match the behavior expected of women. This project additionally compares the penalties women face for violating each set of expectations: Are women more harshly penalized for being “bad women” or for for being “bad leaders”? Results will shed light on barriers to a woman being elected to the U.S. presidency.
Pluralistic Ignorance and Men’s Aspirations for Communal Traits
2018–19 Survey Lab Project
In this project, men were asked to answer one of two questions about 55 different traits such as strong, assertive, persuasive, supportive, generous, and gentle. In condition 1, respondents answered the question “How much do you yourself want to be X?” In condition 2, respondents answered the question “How much do you think most American men want to be X?”. Results showed that the traits Americans think most American men most want to possess are quite different from the traits most American men actually most want to possess. The ten traits that participants thought most American men most want to be (the pluralistic ignorance condition) are: successful, intelligent, strong, independent, good leader, hardworking, trustworthy, works well under pressure, attractive, and brave. The ten traits that men actually most want to be (the true condition) are: honest, trustworthy, reliable, a good listener, intelligent, helpful, wise, strong, polite, and kind.
In a follow-up experiment, participants read the following statement: “A recent survey found that the 10 traits that American men most want to be are:”…. In the pluralistic ignorance condition, they were shown the top 10 traits that most Americans think most men men want to be (successful, hardworking, etc.). In the true condition, on the other hand, they were shown the top 10 traits that most American men said they want to be (honest, good listener, etc.). Then they were asked how much they themselves aspired to have certain traits for themselves. As predicted, men in the true condition expressed significantly higher aspirations for communal traits than men in the pluralistic ignorance condition.