The Shift in Power with Age:Changes in Perception of the Power of Women and Men Over the Life Cycle

Ariella Friedman, Yael Tzukerman, Hana Wienberg, Judith Todd

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Previous research has described an apparent shift in perceived interpersonal power towards equality between men and women later in life. This study investigated (a) whether the shift in power with age would appear in the Israeli kibbutz, (b) the role of the parental emergency in the shift, and (c) whether changes in behaviors or attitudes best account for the shift. One hundred twenty younger and older Israeli women and men, half from the city and half from the kibbutz, wrote TAT stories, which were then rated for overall power of the female and male characters, their power strategies, and their motives. A shift in perceived power with age was found in both the city and the kibbutz. Parental status reduced the power of the woman and increased the power of the man only in the city, whereas the reverse was true in the kibbutz. These results counter the parental emergency explanation for the shift in power with age. Furthermore, older women used traditionally feminine power strategies, but their behavior was evaluated as more powerful than the same behavior in younger women. Thus, it is not the behaviors but rather people's evaluation of the behaviors that changes across the life span of the individual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-525
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992


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