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Power and gender influences on responsibility attributions: the case of disagreements in relationships.

Authors
  • Trentham, S
  • Larwood, L
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of social psychology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2001
Volume
141
Issue
6
Pages
730–751
Identifiers
PMID: 11827222
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In a sample of 156 college students (74 men and 82 women), the authors examined the influences of power status and gender on responsibility attributions and resolution choices during disagreements in personal relationships. The participants read vignettes in which relationship partners disagreed; then the participants placed themselves in the situations depicted and reported their perceived responsibility and resolution choices. The participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 power-status conditions (you have/your partner has greater power in the situation). Power status was based on resource power (i.e., a monetary inheritance) or on perceived power (i.e., financial knowledge). The authors tested 2 alternative power-status hypotheses (justified benefits/rights and ability/accountability) and 1 gender hypothesis. The results supported both power-status hypotheses. In addition, the men's and the women's responsibility attributions and resolution choices (i.e., adhering to their own wishes or deferring to their partner's wishes) revealed differential dependence on the type of power held by the person with greater situational power. The authors suggest issues further research concerning how situational differences in socially based expectations (e.g., power status and gender) may affect conflicts within relationships.

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