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Not Bad, For a Man: Shifting Standards in the Provision of Emotional Support Within Romantic Relationships

Ciccocioppo, Melinda Marie (2012) Not Bad, For a Man: Shifting Standards in the Provision of Emotional Support Within Romantic Relationships. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous research has found mixed results in terms of gender differences in the provision of emotional support to a relationship partner. Some studies support the popular stereotype that women are more emotionally supportive than men, while others find no gender differences in the amount of emotional support men and women provide to one another in a romantic relationship. These conflicting findings may be the result of shifting standards for men and women in terms of the amount of emotional support that is expected to be provided by each within a relationship. Since women are stereotypically assumed to be more nurturing and emotionally supportive than men, more emotional support will be expected of them in comparison with men who are assumed to be unemotional and largely unsupportive of their partners. Therefore, women will be held to a higher standard than men with regard to the provision of emotional support. The purpose of the current study was to test this shifting standards effect as it relates to the provision of emotional support within dating relationships. Heterosexual male and female undergraduates currently involved in a dating relationship were asked to rate their partners’ provision of emotional support using either an objective scale or a subjective scale. It was predicted that objective ratings of emotional support provision would reflect stereotypical gender differences with women being rated as providing more support than men. However, subjective ratings, which are subject to shifting standards, would not display gender differences in the provision of emotional support. These results were predicted to be associated with within-gender social comparison and adherence to gender stereotypes. Contrary to predictions, women rated their partners as providing significantly more emotional support than men on both the objective and subjective scales. Despite this fact, analyses of items measuring within-gender and between-gender comparisons revealed that participants adhered to the stereotype that women typically provide more emotional support than men. Ratings of emotional support provision were related to adherence to benevolent stereotypes about men and women, especially for men. The implications of these surprising results and suggestions for future research are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ciccocioppo, Melinda Mariemmc57@pitt.eduMMC57
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFrieze, Irenefrieze@pitt.eduFRIEZE
Committee MemberVotruba-Drzal, Elizabethevotruba@pitt.eduEVOTRUBA
Committee MemberGreenberg,
Committee MemberFeeney,
Date: 13 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 April 2012
Approval Date: 13 June 2012
Submission Date: 19 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 96
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Relationships Social Support Gender Stereotypes
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2012 15:55
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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