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Publication

Competition preferences in friends

Duarte, Krystal
Abstract

Women are faced with a double bind: Like men, women must compete to get ahead, but people dislike competitive women. Moreover, because of pernicious and pervasive gender discrimination, women are urged to find support during this competition by leaning specifically on other women. However, ample research suggests that backlash towards competitive women can also come from other women. But who—if anyone—disfavors associating with competitive women? Three different theoretical approaches make different predictions: A gender role approach suggests both men and women should disfavor competitiveness in women, a behavioral ecology approach suggests only women should disfavor competitiveness in their same-sex allies, and a nuanced evolutionary approach that suggest women will disfavor competitiveness in their same-sex allies only when that competitiveness is targeted towards them and their friends. Here we test between the three accounts, using CloudResearch U.S. participants (N = 466). Men and women rated their ideal preference for competitiveness in their same-gender friends when that competitiveness was directed at six targets (oneself, other friends, their rival, friend’s rival, co-worker, and rival co-worker). We found that women prefer competitiveness in their friends just as much as men do, unless that competitiveness is targeted towards them and their friends. These findings may begin to explain the potential psychology underlying the stigma against competitive women and the motivators behind the double bind using an evolutionary perspective. These findings have real-world implications (e.g., navigating the double bind, gender inequality).

Date
2023-12
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