Volume 112, Issue 2 p. 389-411
Original Article

Reactions to male-favouring versus female-favouring sex differences: A pre-registered experiment and Southeast Asian replication

Steve Stewart-Williams

Corresponding Author

Steve Stewart-Williams

School of Psychology, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Semenyih, Malaysia

Correspondence should be addressed to Steve Stewart-Williams School of Psychology, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia (email: [email protected]).

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Chern Yi Marybeth Chang

Chern Yi Marybeth Chang

School of Psychology, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Semenyih, Malaysia

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Xiu Ling Wong

Xiu Ling Wong

School of Psychology, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Semenyih, Malaysia

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Jesse D. Blackburn

Jesse D. Blackburn

Department of Psychology, Swansea University, UK

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Andrew G. Thomas

Andrew G. Thomas

Department of Psychology, Swansea University, UK

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First published: 23 July 2020
Citations: 10

[Correction added on 22 August 2020, after first online publication: The references have been updated in this version]

Abstract

Two studies investigated (1) how people react to research describing a sex difference, depending on whether that difference favours males or females, and (2) how accurately people can predict how the average man and woman will react. In Study 1, Western participants (N = 492) viewed a fictional popular-science article describing either a male-favouring or a female-favouring sex difference (i.e., men/women draw better; women/men lie more). Both sexes reacted less positively to the male-favouring differences, judging the findings to be less important, less credible, and more offensive, harmful, and upsetting. Participants predicted that the average man and woman would react more positively to sex differences favouring their own sex. This was true of the average woman, although the level of own-sex favouritism was lower than participants predicted. It was not true, however, of the average man, who – like the average woman – reacted more positively to the female-favouring differences. Study 2 replicated these findings in a Southeast Asian sample (N = 336). Our results are consistent with the idea that both sexes are more protective of women than men, but that both exaggerate the level of same-sex favouritism within each sex – a misconception that could potentially harm relations between the sexes.

Conflicts of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Data availability statement

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available from OSF at http://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/6N5UP (Study 1) and http://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/MWAZ2 (Study 2).