Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Grush, Joseph E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Reward (Psychology); Sex role


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether sex- role orientation qualified past research which has typically found that males use equity and females use equality in dividing rewards. Specifically, the present study predicted that Traditional females and Nontraditional males would allocate rewards equally and equitably, respectively, because gender and sex-role orientation would exert concordant pressures for reward allocation behavior. By contrast, Nontraditional women and Traditional men were predicted to allocate rewards intermediate between equality and equity because gender and sex-role orientation would exert conflicting pressures toward equality and equity. The study was conducted in three stages. First, pilot subjects rated 12 stimulus paragraphs (4 neutral, 4 feminine, and 4 masculine) on the following dimensions: (a) estimates of the percentage of work a male and a female coworker would be able to complete on a given task; (b) how reasonable various inputs (60, 70, 80%) were for each worker on each task; and, (c) whether the tasks were neutral, feminine, or masculine in nature. Based on the following criteria, two exemplars from each task category were selected for the experimental stage: (a) subjects' estimates of a female's (male's) inputs had to be 60-69% (40-31%), 31-40% (69-60%), and 48-52% (52-48%) of the total work performed to be considered feminine, masculine, and neutral, respectively; (b) subjects rated these targeted inputs as quite reasonable for the female (male) worker to make; (c) the majority of subjects appropriately categorized each task as being feminine, masculine, or neutral in nature. Second, the Marital Role Decisions Questionnaire (Grush & Yehl, 1979) was administered as a measure of sex-role orientation to 294 students. Third, 30 Traditional and 30 Nontraditional subjects, half of whom were female and half of whom were male, read the stimulus paragraphs and allocated rewards to the male and female coworkers who were said to have performed the task. After completing the reward allocations, subjects made causal attributional ratings regarding ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty on two types of 7-point scales. One scale was the standard importance measure, while the second scale was a measure recommended by Maney (1980). For the reward allocation data, one main effect was found for task which was qualified by a two-way interaction of task and traditionality. Specifically, subjects allocated less of the reward to the male and female workers for their performances on same sex typed tasks (masculine and feminine tasks, respectively) and more to the performers for their work on opposite sex-typed tasks. The nature of the interaction indicated that Traditional subjects overcompensated workers on opposite sex-typed tasks and undercompensated workers on same sex-typed tasks to a greater extent than Nontraditional subjects. When reward allocations were categorized as equitable or other, a greater number of Nontraditional subjects used the equity principle than did Traditional subjects. Results of multiple regression analyses also showed that attributional judgments did not contribute much to the explanation of reward allocations beyond that explained by sex-role orientation. Discussion suggested that subjects' tendency to overcompensate workers on opposite sex-typed tasks and to undercompensate workers on same sex-typed tasks may have been due to subjects' desire to give workers some reward for their simple willingness to work on opposite sex-typed tasks for which they were least prepared to contribute (Taynor § Deaux, 1975). Differences between Traditional and Nontradi- tional subjects were discussed in terms of Traditionals viewing others more in terms of their social roles and less in terms of their individuality than Nontraditionals (see Ellis & Bentler, 1973; Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1975). Finally, the failure to find sex differences in the present study was attributed to procedural conditions which fostered subjects' tendency to respond on the basis of abstract principle rather than situational constraints (see Carles § Carver, 1979). The discussion concluded by offering several suggestions for future research.


Includes bibliographical references.


vii, 70 pages




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