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Inferior performance, standards, and expectations in task-oriented same-sex dyads Freeman, Sabrina Karen


This research examines the role of standards in the formation of performance expectations. In particular, the formation of inferior performance expectations of an actor relative to a partner are examined. The theoretical framework used is that of expectation states theory which is concerned with the development, maintenance and modification of power and prestige hierarchies in task-oriented groups. Subjects in same-sex dyads were assigned at random to one of two experimental conditions. Two sets of standards defined the presence or absence of ability. In the first condition, subjects were given a lower score than their partners and were informed that it could not be determined from these scores whether they lacked ability at the task or whether the partner possessed the task ability. In the second condition, subjects were given the same scores as in condition one, but were told that they definitely lacked the task ability, and that the partner definitely possessed the ability. The hypothesis states that subjects in the first condition will reject less influence than those in the second. The hypothesis was supported for women, but not for men. Gender differences in rejection of influence rates cannot be attributed to manipulation failures or other variables also measured in the study. It is argued that lack of support for the hypothesis with respect to male subjects can be attributed to a greater degree of caution amongst males in the formation of expectations based upon evaluations of past performance. Reasons for male reluctance in generalizing from information provided are suggested and the importance of these findings to expectation states theory and to the general role of standards is discussed.

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