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Women's changing personality traits. (Your Life).

Women's roles are changing, and sexual stereotypes may include beliefs about such developments. Social psychology professor Amanda Diekman, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and colleague Alice Eagly of Northwestern University, Evanston, III., surveyed more than 800 adults on the personality characteristics of men and women of the past, present, and potential future--from 1950 to 2050. Their findings showed a consistent belief that females are increasingly exhibiting personality traits typically associated with males.

"Women are perceived as having become much more assertive, independent, and competitive over the years," Diekman notes. "And our respondents--whether they were old enough to have witnessed it or not--recognized the role change that occurred when women began working outside the home in large numbers and the necessity of adopting characteristics that equip them to be breadwinners."

Conversely, the study showed that men are not perceived to be developing more of the personality characteristics typically associated with women, although the responses tended to differ a bit depending on the participant's age. "Some of the college students did indicate that they thought men were becoming warmer and more kind, but the older adults did not see that at all," Diekman indicates. "This is likely because men's roles have not changed as significantly since the 1950s--most are still working full time to support themselves or as the primary wage earner for a family."

She says this method of looking at sexual stereotypes suggests that, rather then being rigid or confining, stereotypes also can change, but she emphasizes that her research did not measure whether the respondents thought the changes were good or bad. "We know that there has been a change in women's roles, and people perceive a great deal of change in women's characteristics--both are real, interactive forces. If new perceptions can open doors for people of both sexes to do what they really want to do with their lives--whether it's to fully engage as a parent or climb the corporate ladder to the CEO's office--that's what's important."
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Title Annotation:developing typically male traits
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:329
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