Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Finkelstein, Lisa M.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Group identity; Women--Identity; Identity (Psychology); Sex differences (Psychology); Feminism--Psychological aspects


Past research has shown that women have difficulty in developing a social identity as a group. In other words, women as a whole do not see themselves as a separate group from men. Yet feminists, who do possess a social identity of women, tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and seem to have a better framework to interpret sexism. Thus, women may benefit from identifying with women as a group. Furthermore, research has shown that another key construct, the degree to which women believe they share a common fate with other women, has been linked to higher levels of feminist consciousness. This thesis proposes that women?s groups can enable women to attain a social identity and common fate with other women, which in turn would positively impact a feminist consciousness and women?s attitudes toward the women?s movement. Ninetyfour college women participated in a laboratory simulation of a women?s group. Three variables?a) the type of discussion group (student vs. women?s), b) the agreement of the group (confederates agreed vs. disagreed with the participant), and c) the type of issue discussed (student vs. women?s)?were all manipulated for a total of eight groups. Participants? social identity, common fate, and feminist consciousness, as well as attitudes toward the women?s movement, were measured. Results indicated that there was a trend for an effect on the feminist consciousness measure of illegitimacy of gender disparity such that participants in the women?s group condition (a women?s discussion group where women agreed on women?s issues) t indicated the highest degree of feminist consciousness. Furthermore, the variables, women?s issues and women as a discussion group, positively impacted a common fate and attitudes toward the women?s movement. Future research should continue to look at the impact of actual women?s groups and other possible variables on social identity and common fate of women.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [66]-70).


viii, 81 pages




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