Does the Gender of Your Friends Matter for Sexist Attitudes About Women?

Diana L. Jenkins, Sonya Xinyue Xiao, Carol Lynn Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Building upon two complimentary theoretical frameworks related to group relations (i.e., Intergroup Contact Theory and Peer Exposure), we examined how emerging adults’ friendships with men and women were related to their hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, and sexual objectification attitudes. Participants were 212 college students (Mage = 20.20 years, SD = 2.08; 62% female; 58% White) from a large southwestern university. Results provided support for Intergroup Contact Theory and for a Peer Exposure effect, but only for men. Specifically, for men, having female friends was negatively associated with hostile sexism, and having male friends was positively related to hostile sexism; neither friendship type related to benevolent sexism. For women, no significant relations between friends and attitudes were found; this is likely due to the assessed attitudes being about women (their own group). The findings suggest a promising pathway to mitigate gender-based prejudice for men through cross-gender friendships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-393
Number of pages14
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • intergroup contact
  • peers
  • sexism
  • sexual objectification
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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