Gender and Influenceability: Stereotype Versus Behavior
In our society, there is widespread belief in sex differences in how easily people accept and exert influence. Women are perceived to be relatively easy to influence and as having little influence over others. Various stereotype studies have found that women, when compared with men, are perceived to be more easily influenced, more dependent, less agressive, less dominant, and less able to act as leaders (Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson, & Rosenkrantz, 1972; Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1974; Taylor, Fiske, Etcoff, & Ruderman, 1978; Williams & Bennett, 1975). According to social stereotypes about gender, then, women are relatively conforming, persuasible, and easily led; furthermore, they lack the ability to lead, influence, or dominate others. In this chapter, we examine the origins of such beliefs and attempt to assess their accuracy as a description of actual sex differences.