Gender differences in the compatibility of romantic desirability and power goals
Streamer, Lindsey Marie
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Women are less likely than men to occupy powerful positions in social and organizational hierarchies (e.g., Catalyst, 2015; Eagly & Karau, 1991). A potential contributor to this gender gap may be that the goal to be romantically desirable conflicts with the goal to be powerful for women, but is related to the goal to be powerful for men. To test this idea, Study 1 examined whether activating a romantic (vs. control) goal would lead women to show lower implicit power activation, persistence/performance on a power-related task, explicit power goals, and preference for a powerful in-lab role, but lead to the opposite effects for men. To test the reverse direction, Study 2 examined whether activating a high (vs. low) power goal would lead women to show lower implicit romantic activation, explicit romantic goals, and persistence on a romantic-related task, but lead men to show the opposite pattern. Finally, drawing upon previous research showing that perceived goal progress (vs. commitment) makes people more likely to pursue conflicting goals (Fishbach & Dahr, 2005), Study 3 tested whether perceived romantic goal progress would lead women to show greater (and men to show lower) power-related outcomes. Across studies, results did not support the predictions. Limitations and implications are discussed.