Need Some Help, Honey? Dependency-Oriented Helping Relations Between Women and Men in the Domestic Sphere

Orly Bareket, Nurit Shnabel, Anna Kende, Nadine Knab, Yoav Bar-Anan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Five studies (N = 2,339) found that men and women, especially if high on benevolent sexism, engage in dependency-oriented cross-gender helping relations in domestic tasks. Study 1 revealed that, in response to hypothetical scenarios of cross-gender helping interactions in traditionally feminine domains (e.g., cooking a dish), men’s benevolent sexism correlated with their intentions to seek dependency-oriented help (direct assistance, rather than tools for autonomous coping) from women, and women’s benevolent sexism correlated with their intentions to provide dependency-oriented help to men. Study 2 revealed that the association between benevolent sexism and (a) men’s intentions to seek, and (b) women’s intentions to provide dependency-oriented help occurs in cross-gender, but not in same-gender, interactions. Studies 3 and 4 replicated these patterns while examining help-seeking (among men) and help-providing (among women) behavior in a test about common domestic tasks (e.g., how to clean a burned pot). Study 5 focused on heterosexual couples, revealing that when encountering difficulties in traditionally feminine domestic tasks (e.g., getting the kids ready for kindergarten): (a) men, especially if high on benevolent sexism, reported seeking more dependency-oriented help from their partners than women; (b) women, especially if high on benevolent sexism, reported providing more dependency-oriented help to their partners than men; and (c) engagement in dependency-oriented helping predicted an unequal division of household labor. We discuss these findings in light of previous theorizing and research on the social psychological barriers that reinforce men’s relatively low involvement in the domestic sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1203
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume120
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Benevolent sexism
  • Dependency-oriented help
  • Division of household labor
  • The domestic sphere
  • Traditional gender roles

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