An interdependence account of sexism and power: Men’s hostile sexism, biased perceptions of low power, and relationship aggression.

Protecting men’s power is fundamental to understanding the origin, expression, and targets of hostile sexism, yet no prior theoretical or empirical work has specified how hostile sexism is related to experiences of power. In the current studies, we propose that the interdependence inherent in heterosexual relationships will lead men who more strongly endorse hostile sexism to perceive they have lower power in their relationship, and that these perceptions will be biased. We also predicted that lower perceptions of power would in turn promote aggression toward intimate partners. Across 4 studies, men who more strongly endorsed hostile sexism perceived lower power in their relationships. Comparisons across partners supported that these lower perceptions of power were biased; men who more strongly endorsed hostile sexism underestimated the power they had compared with their partners’ reports of that power (Studies 1 and 2). These lower perceptions of power, in turn, predicted greater aggression toward female partners during couples’ daily interactions (Study 1), observed during couples’ video-recorded conflict discussions (Study 2), and reported over the last year (Studies 3 and 4). Moreover, the associations between hostile sexism, power, and aggression were specific to men perceiving lower relationship power rather than desiring greater power in their relationships (Studies 3 and 4), and they were not the result of generally being more dominant and aggressive (Studies 3 and 4), or more negative relationship evaluations from either partner (Studies 1–4). The findings demonstrate the importance of an interdependence perspective in understanding the experiences, aggressive expressions, and broader consequences associated with hostile sexism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)