Flattering to deceive: Why people misunderstand benevolent sexism.

Perceptions of warmth play a central role in social cognition. Seven studies use observational, correlational, and experimental methods to examine its role in concealing the functions of benevolent sexism (BS). Together, Studies 1 (n = 297), 2 (n = 252), and 3 (n = 219) indicated that although women recall experiencing benevolent (vs. hostile) sexism more often, they protest it less often, because they see it as warm. In Studies 4 (n = 296) and 5 (n = 361), describing men as high in BS caused them (via warmth) to be seen as lower in hostile sexism (HS) and more supportive of gender equality. In Study 6 (n = 283) these findings were replicated and extended, revealing misunderstanding of relationships between BS and a wide array of its correlates. In Study 7 (n = 211), men experimentally described as harboring warm (vs. cold) attitudes toward women were perceived as higher in BS but lower in known correlates of BS. These findings demonstrate that the warm affective tone of BS, particularly when displayed by men, masks its ideological functions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)