Self-derogating consequences of sex-based preferential selection: The moderating role of initial self-confidence

Madeline E. Heilman, Jonathan A. Lucas, Stella R. Kaplow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One hundred and twenty undergraduates (60 male and 60 female) served as leaders for a one-way communication task. They were selected for the leadership position on the basis of merit or preferential selection. Among those selected preferentially, one group was given no information, another group was given positive information, and a third group was given negative information about their task-related leadership ability. As expected, when selected preferentially and provided with no ability information, males did not differ in self-views but females were far more negative in self-views than those selected on the basis of merit. However, when provided with positive information about task-related ability women selected preferentially did not differ in self-view from those selected on the basis of merit, and when provided with negative information about task-related ability men selected preferentially did evidence more negative self-views then those selected on the basis of merit. Measures of self-view included evaluations of performance, perceptions of general leadership ability, and desire to persist in the leadership role. The findings lend support to the idea that confidence in task-related ability is an important determinant of reactions to preferential selection. Implications of these findings, both theoretical and practical, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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