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The Fairer Sex? Warmth, Competence and Perceptions of Male and Female Managers' Interactional and Procedural Fairness

Rebecca Levine, 2010
Faculty Advisor: Joel Brockner
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Abstract

Warmth and competence have been recognized as the two fundamental dimensions of social perception. Therefore, it seems likely that evaluations of an authority figure's fairness would also rely on information about warmth and competence. Yet the role these two traits play in assessing the fairness of others has thus far been neglected. This research uses the framework of gender stereotypes to connect the person perception and justice literatures, exploring how warmth and competence impart information about interactional and procedural fairness, respectively. In addition, the question of whether procedural and interactional fairness are distinct constructs remains a controversial topic in the justice literature. Theoretical arguments for their status as separate constructs have been limited, and have not articulated potential psychological mechanisms responsible for their different effects. By examining this debate from the perspectives of gender stereotypes and social perception, this dissertation sheds light on how and why procedural and interactional fairness differ. Exploring the influence of the gender of the decision-maker also contributes to the literature on gender and justice, which, until now, has concentrated on how men and women react as recipients of decisions.

In this dissertation, I propose that interactional fairness behaviors are stereotypically female, while procedural fairness behaviors are stereotypically male. Based on this, I delineate different expectations for, and effects of, the procedural and interactional fairness behaviors of men and women. I then employ the contents of gender stereotypes to make the argument that the two fundamental dimensions of social perception, warmth and competence, impart information about interactional and procedural fairness, respectively. Two studies tested these hypotheses in the context of backlash against women successful in male gender typed jobs. A third study examined reactions to male and female managers exhibiting high and low levels of interactional and procedural fairness, while a fourth explicitly examined stereotypes about male and female fairness behaviors. While findings were not consistent across all studies, my hypotheses received some support.

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