Effect of Identification with Women on Associations of Agency and Communion

Sarah Peeling

Authors: Sarah Peeling, Congjiao (Elsa) Jiang, Kate A. Ratliff

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kate Ratliff

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


This research examines how women’s identification with “women” as a group affects both their implicit and explicit associations of themselves with communal and agentic traits. We hypothesize that there will be a greater positive correlation between identification with women and implicit and explicit communal traits than with agentic traits. 138 female-identifying participants from the Project Implicit website will complete an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and self-report questionnaires to measure their implicit and explicit associations with communal and agentic traits. We will then measure their identification with women as a group. We will correlate participants’ self-identification with women with their implicit and explicit trait association. Previous research has shown how identifying with “women” as a group affects women’s explicit associations, but this study is important in showing the implicit associations and how that correlates to the explicit measures and “women” identity. This has implications for gaining a deeper understanding into how identification with the group “women” affects women’s evaluations of themselves as well as other women.

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12 Responses
  1. James Shepperd

    Hi Sarah, Nice presentation. The ceiling effect sounds like a reasonable explanation, as does “unfamiliarity with the terms” explanation.

    1. Sarah Peeling

      Hi Dr. Shepperd,

      Thank you! Yes, it would be great to be able to run the study again and try to account for those issues!

  2. Joelle Dorsett

    Hi Sarah,

    This is such a fascinating topic! How would you like to expand on this research in the future?

    1. Sarah Peeling

      Hi Joelle,

      Thank you so much! I think it would be interesting to explore how identification with feminists may affect implicit and explicit associations of agency and communion. I would also like to try this study in countries that are more collectivist and thus probably more likely to identify themselves with communal traits, and see how that compares to the sample in this study which was based in the U.S. and thus more likely to be individualistic.

  3. Anna Baringer

    This is a very neat project! Do you think that having a sample size bigger than 140 may help your first hypothesis become significant?

    1. Sarah Peeling

      Hi Anna,

      Thank you so much! I think that could definitely help! The more people we get, the more likely it is to have some people who have low identification with women so I think this will help since the vast majority of our participants highly identified with women.

  4. Good job. Did you look at any literature on “group consciousness” among women? This literature says that women, African Americans, and others sometimes have a sense of group solidarity or consciousness because of their common experiences. This impact the ways that they perceive certain issues and even the way that they vote.

    1. Sarah Peeling

      Hi Dr. Austin,

      I looked into social identity theory but not group consciousness specifically. But that definitely sounds relevant to this research, thank you for bringing that up!

  5. Marian Borg

    Hi Sarah! Terrific job on your research. I especially enjoyed listening to your first-rate presentation. I was left wondering how the relationships you studied might change over the life course? Probably impossible to keep track of the women in your study, but it would be fascinating to re-visit them 5 or 10 years from now to see how their degree of identification changes and how that might be associated with changes in the other traits you examined. Super job!

    1. Sarah Peeling

      Hi Dr. Borg,

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!! When I was researching I didn’t come across any literature about how identification with women changes as they age, but I could see it going either way: maybe the sum of their life experiences reinforces their identity of being a woman, or maybe they identify less as being a woman because they have several other identities that are important to them as they age, such as being a mother or grandmother. In terms of the agentic and communal traits, I did find some research suggesting that in general, people tend to attribute more communal traits to themselves as they age. But yes, I agree it would certainly be fascinating to follow this sample and see how things change!