Hi. This is my first  post on this blog, and I haven’t really gotten everything ready yet, as you can see. But anyway, welcome.

The basic idea behind this blog is to bring far-flung data on a topic together into one place, and present it in a way that is accessible and understandable to anyone that happens to be doing research into the topics I’m posting on. I’m currently working on a few projects relating to gender politics.

This is a preview of a post I’m going to make about an article on the PBS website, entitled “Are you sexist? Take this quiz”. The accompanying quiz is a ‘lite’, twelve question version of a psychological measure called the ‘Ambivalent Sexism Inventory‘ (ASI), created by Peter Glick and Susan Fiske from Lawrence University and Princeton University, respectively. The ‘Ambivalent Sexism Inventory’ is intended to provide empirical support for Glick and Fiske’s theory of Ambivalent Sexism, which concludes that liking women and being kind to them is just as sexist as hating them and oppressing them. If you have heard the term ‘benevolent sexism’, this is where it comes from.

This post was going to be a tiny side-project, but after flicking through the paper by Glick & Fiske, mentioned in the article accompanying the quiz, I decided to look into it a bit deeper. That will probably take a while and I wanted to put this data out while it’s still kinda fresh, so that Dave Cullen at Computing Forever, and any of his subscribers who are interested can have a look at it and sate their curiosity. It is through Dave’s channel that I discovered the PBS quiz.

After watching Dave’s video entitled “Not Being Sexist is Sexist“, I was curious how the quiz was graded. Looking through the comments section, I could see I wasn’t the only one. So I wrote some JavaScript code to fill out the quiz super-fast and submit it a bunch of times. Two hundred and eighty-eight times, to be exact. The script goes successively through the six options for the first question while holding responses for the other questions at “disagree strongly”. Then it does the same for each of the twelve subsequent attitudinal questions. Twelve times six options makes seventy-two passes of the quiz for a full result set. I did this four times, to check whether scores changed depending on whether you answer as a male or a female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, etc. The five personal information questions made no difference at all to the results. You can find my JavaScript code and the data I got from it in the appropriate tabs at the top of the post.

Some explanation of the data, and a few initial thoughts on it:

  • The ‘correct’ response for every question is ‘disagree strongly’. Strongly disagreeing on every question will get you a zero sexism score.
  • Each increment towards strong agreement on a given question earns you $$0.16\dot{6}$$ points, rounded to two decimal places.
  • The maximum score is $$10$$ points: ($$5$$ hostile and $$5$$ benevolent). Each of the $$12$$ questions has $$5$$ non-zero response options. $$10 \div (5 \times 12) = 0.16\dot{6}$$. This is the $$0.16\dot{6}$$ that is added to your score for each step away from ‘disagree strongly’
  • There are $$5$$ ‘hostile sexism’ questions and $$5$$ ‘benevolent sexism’ questions. The two types are graded completely separately.
  • All of the questions fall into four basic categories. The ‘hostile sexism’ questions are either about perceptions of manipulativeness or of querulousness in women; the ‘benevolent sexism questions are either about women’s virtue or their place in men’s lives.
  • Questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 & 11 measure benevolent sexism. 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 12 measure hostile sexism.
  • Every question has $$6$$ possible responses, and there is no neutral response. But because of the way the quiz is graded, with zero points at ‘disagree strongly’, a neutral answer would be meaningless, anyway: if it were possible to give a neutral answer, it would earn you $$0.42$$ points – half the maximum score for the question. Smell a rat?

A glance at the average scores (in the ‘Data’ tab) will show you that men get very close to 2.5 for both hostile and benevolent sexism. Because the questions are graded from ‘disagree strongly’ at $$0$$ points and ‘agree strongly’ at $$5$$, $$2.5$$ is where the “neither agree nor disagree” would have been. The average man appears to be giving (or trying to give) a more or less neutral response and getting a fairly weighty sexism score in return. Not unsurprisingly, women score slightly lower than men in both categories. From what I understand flicking through their paper, Glick & Fiske wanted to provide evidence to back up their theory that hostile and benevolent sexism are are two sides of the same coin, and that men hold concurrently opposing views about women. This grading scheme is how they have achieved that. By putting the zero point at one extreme, a neutral response from the perspective of the respondent gives them a healthy sexism score for both categories in about equal measure.

The ASI that this quiz is based on is graded in the same way as the PBS quiz, with the exception that some of the questions are put inversely (so “Feminism is making unreasonable demands” becomes “Feminism is NOT making unreasonable demands”), and those questions are graded so that ‘agree strongly’ is at zero. This is done to check for ‘acquiescence bias‘. The ASI is a twenty-two question measure, and the PBS quiz questions are selected directly from it. Because of the submission procedure on the ASI, getting data from that would have meant re-writing my code, which didn’t seem worth the effort. The grading system is the same, only each increment gets you $$0.45$$ points instead of $$0.167$$.

I think that, in their paper, the authors are claiming a positive correlation between the two categories. I can’t see any evidence for that at first glance, but I’m going to have to have a better look at the numbers to say for sure. On the face of it, it seems to me that if someone is distrustful of women, then they are less likely to feel benevolence for them, and vice versa. The authors claim that men’s feelings of benevolence toward women are psychological smoke and mirrors that serve to justify their subjugation of them. They liken it to the notion of “the white man’s burden”. For what it’s worth, it sounds like nonsense to me, but like I say, I’ll need to take a closer look at the numbers in their paper when I get a chance.

Glick & Fiske’s placement of zero at the negative extreme response is effectively a statement that the extreme negative response is ‘the truth’. Based on that, the following must be their own belief set:

  • Questions 1 & 10: Women have absolutely no moral superiority over men . Their thoughts and actions are either equally or less in accordance with moral virtue.
  • Questions 2 & 11: Men should never use their superior size or physical strength (assuming the authors admit that men are bigger and physically stronger), in a way that benefits a woman. Men should not care about the welfare of the women in their lives, and a man should never cherish a woman. It is unclear whether all this applies equally to his relationship with his mother, but I get the feeling from their paper that it does.
  • Questions 3, 7 & 9: Although it may be admitted by the authors that women would like power over their lives, no woman would ever attempt to gain this power by manipulating a man. Women never, ever try to control the men in their lives, and they never toy with men’s emotions. Men should base their interactions with all women on this principle.
  • Questions 4 & 5: A man should never adore a woman, and a single man would be wrong to feel that something is missing in his life.
  • Questions 7 & 8: Women never exaggerate their problems nor do they ever claim that something is unfair when it isn’t. Men should base their interpretations of their social world on this principle.
  • Question 12: Feminists are absolutely not making unreasonable demands of men.

Anyway, these are all just preliminary thoughts and subject to revision on closer inspection of Glick & Fiske’s paper. So watch this space. Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with a thought that amuses me. Glick & Fiske’s ‘zero’ is their truth. By placing their truth at the extreme response values instead of the neutral point, they are effectively displaying their own hostile and benevolent sexism, but they are doing it inversely to their respondents. Glick and Fisk are expressing their benevolent sexism in their hostility questions, and their hostile sexism in their benevolence questions.

To be continued…




Definitions & averages scores from results page

Computing Forever. (2016). Not Being Sexist is Sexist. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/5gbsKCr1–o [Accessed 3 Jul. 2016].

Glick, P. and Fiske, S. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), pp.491-512.

Santhanam, L. (2016). Are you sexist? Take this quiz. [online] PBS NewsHour. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/are-you-sexist-take-this-quiz/ [Accessed 3 Jul. 2016].

Understandingprejudice.org. (2016). UnderstandingPrejudice.org: Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. [online] Available at: http://www.understandingprejudice.org/asi/ [Accessed 3 Jul. 2016].