The effects of sexual permissiveness, target gender, subject gender, and attitude toward women on social perception: In search of the double standard

Melvin Michael Mark, Mark L. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

The sexual double standard, if held by perceivers, should result in more negative evaluations of sexually permissive females than males. Previous research on the double standard has generally ignored this normative issue, and has instead relied on self-report methods to measure personal sexual behavior and the stated limits of acceptable behavior for others. Male and female subjects, either liberal or traditional in their sex role attitudes, were exposed to a male or female target of one of four levels of sexual permissiveness. On most scales, representing a wide range of social judgments, there was no evidence of a sexual double standard. Limited evidence emerged in that male, but not female, subjects may have exhibited a double standard in their ratings of how sexual the target was. In addition, liberal males and traditional females rated female targets who had casual sex as less agreeable than comparable male targets. Despite the general absence of a double-standard effect, sexual permissiveness affected ratings such that more permissive targets were judged as less moral, less conventional, more assertive, more sexual, marginally more likable and less conforming. The findings are discussed in terms of the double standard, the effects of sexual permissiveness on social perception, and gender differences in perceiving sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-322
Number of pages12
JournalSex Roles
Volume15
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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