The gender conformity conundrum: The effects of irrelevant gender norms on public conformity

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The purpose of this experiment was to examine influences of gender norms on gender-role conformity. This series of two studies tests whether females or males are more likely to conform to public norms. To test this, we attached men’s and women’s bathroom-type signs to exit doors from a café at a private academic institution in upstate New York. We then unobtrusively observed whether individuals chose to exit through the door matching their gender. We found that, in both studies, males conformed more to their gender-role sign than did females. This suggests that conformity to certain gender and social norms has greater influence on males, and that these norms have a substantial power over decisions in social settings. In addition, it may be that some males conform to these norms to avoid being represented or perceived as female and/or a lower-power member of society.



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