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Arch Sex Behav. 2019 Feb;48(2):645-652. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1285-5. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Power Affects Sexual Assertiveness and Sexual Esteem Equally in Women and Men.

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Social Cognition Center Cologne, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Str. 2, 50931, Cologne, Germany.
Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Common stereotypes hold that men and women differ strongly in their attitudes toward sex and that such differences are amplified by social power. In contrast, an emerging literature suggests that social power affects both sexes similarly, thus potentially attenuating differences between the sexes. Four samples obtained in the Netherlands, the U.S., Britain, and South-East Asia (total Nā€‰=ā€‰1985) test the effect of social power (operationalized as self-reported amount of power over others at the work place) on validated self-report measures of sexual assertiveness and sexual esteem. Across all samples, power was associated with greater sexual assertiveness and sexual esteem-equally for men and women. Furthermore, effects of power were larger and more consistent than differences between men and women. These findings add to an emerging literature, suggesting that often-observed differences between male and female sexuality actually reflect power differences. This suggests that such differences decrease with greater social equality.


Gender differences; Gender equality; Power; Sexuality


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