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Alice Eagly

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Alice H. Eagly
Alice Hendrickson

1938 (age 85–86)
AwardsDistinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association
Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Science of Social Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation
Raymond A. Katzell Award from the Society for Industrial and Organization Psychology
2011 Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin
Academic background
EducationHarvard University
Alma materUniversity of Michigan (M.A., Ph.D.)
Doctoral advisorHerbert Kelman
Academic work
Sub-disciplineSocial psychology, personality psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology
InstitutionsNorthwestern University
Michigan State University
University of Massachusetts
Purdue University
University of Illinois (visiting)
Harvard University (visiting)
University of Tübingen (visiting)
University of Amsterdam (visiting)
University of Southern California (visiting)
Doctoral studentsShelly Chaiken

Alice H. Eagly (born 1938)[1] is the James Padilla Chair of Arts and Sciences Emerita and emerita professor of psychology at Northwestern University.[2] She is also a fellow at the Institute of Policy Research at Northwestern University.[2] Her primary research focus is social psychology, as well as personality psychology and Industrial Organizational Psychology. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2022.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Eagly was born in 1938, in Los Angeles, to Harold and Josara Hendrickson.[1][4] She completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University in Social Relations in 1960. She received her M.A. in psychology and her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan.[5] She also holds two honorary doctorates: from the University of Bern (Bern, Switzerland)[5] and from Erasmus University (Rotterdam, Netherlands).[6]

In 1962, she married Robert Eagly, who she had met while studying in Norway.[7] Although the two had not planned to reverse social roles, this became their lifestyle after Eagly succeeded further in her career and they concluded that Robert would become the stay-at-home parent. This lifestyle change exemplifies the social role studies that Eagly was very much involved in.[7]


Eagly has held teaching positions at several universities including Northwestern University, Michigan State University, University of Massachusetts, and Purdue University,[1] as well as visiting positions at University of Illinois, Harvard University, University of Tübingen, University of Amsterdam, and University of Southern California. She has written or contributed to 7 books and over 100 journal articles.[5]


Social role theory[edit]

Eagly developed the social role theory which attributes current sex differences to the labor division between men and women.[8] While conducting research pertaining to the Social Role Theory, Eagly was a member of an observation team that explored stereotype content. To begin this research, they collected data on the development of stereotypes through observations and preliminary research of participants' beliefs. These beliefs were then compared to various members of social groups.[9]

Within this theory, Eagly compares gender differences and stereotypes, which have the potential to lead to prejudice. Prejudices are formed when individuals hold stereotypes about a social group that does not agree with the attributes that are typically perceived as being required for success in certain social roles.[10] Eagly uses much of her research to show that discrimination happens when the individual steps outside of the given stereotype ascribed to their group.[11] This is a basis for much of her research on gender discrimination and stereotypes.

According to Eagly, an attitude is made of evaluation, attitude object, and tendency. Evaluation encompasses all aspects of reacting inwardly or outwardly and to react based upon a believed feeling or emotion.[12] An attitude object is any thing that can cause a reaction in an individual. Tendency is formed through past experiences. Each individual has their own attitude based on these three components that resonate with other's attitudes in order to form similar patterns of thought and stereotypes.

One of her most important[13] contributions to the field of psychology is her theory on role congruity, the belief that prejudice arises when one social groups' stereotype mismatches their valued success in other social roles, specifically among men and women. That is, society views one social groups role to be exclusive to that group in particular, and that venturing outside this could not be a successful endeavor, thus creating prejudicial attitudes.[14] Eagly explores this idea in her research to show that the attributes ascribed to the group are not necessarily negative, but just different from that which is assumed of the group.[15]

A stereotype that Eagly spent time studying was physical beauty and levels of attractiveness. This stereotype is composed of physical attractiveness, media content, and social attention given to those with certain outward characteristics. Due to the fact that society as a whole has been seen through studies as more accepting of physically attractive individuals, the stereotype has formed that they also hold characteristics and attributes that are positive and favorable.[16]

Eagly has contributed several notable studies to the body of research on sex differences. For example, her work in the area of mate-preferences showed that men and women who held more traditional gender ideologies preferred more gender stereotypical qualities in a partner. Women with more traditional attitudes looked for older mates while more traditional men sought younger mates compared to males and females who reported less traditional gender ideologies.[17] In an additional study, Eagly found that participant's mate-preferences could be shifted by asking them to see themselves in different marital roles. When instructed to envision oneself in the provider role, participants placed a greater emphasis on a mate's homemaker skills and the preferred age for the mate decreased. She also found, however, that changing one's expected marital role could not eliminate gender differences in preference for earning potential; women consistently looked for a greater earning potential in a mate compared to men.[18]

Other research that Eagly participated in looks at women who were highly educated and their anticipated marital roles. This study shows that these women anticipated inequality in areas such as employment hours, salary, housework and childcare in comparison to the amount of work that they expected their husbands to do. Further research in this study also shows that women who anticipated greater employment opportunity showed a general decrease in gender role assumptions, but also felt that they felt their relationships with their family and emotional well-being would be affected adversely.[19]

This theory emphasizes the social component of sex differences. It operates around the idea of correspondence inference, which is the tendency to ascribe a person's behavior to her or his disposition or personality and to underestimate the extent to which situational factors elicited the behavior. Eagly suggests that men and women were constrained to certain roles in the work force and then assumed to embody the psychological characteristics of those roles without exception.[20]

Women and men can be classified by differing prosocial behaviors. These behaviors are categorized as communion or agency. Communal traits are identified as concerned with others, friendly, unselfish and emotionally expressive; these communal traits are more commonly associated with females. Agentic traits are identified as dominant, competitive, and assertive, and are associated more commonly with males.[21]


According to Eagly's studies, she refers to the differences found in gender stated as male or female due to the standard XX or XY chromosomes present. When working with the feminist theory, Eagly introduces the biosocial theory that considers the division of labor as a core principle.[22] She also believes that when considering feminism and science there are not specifically congruent ideas that point to sameness when considering the biological differences between men and women. Eagly stands for accuracy and interpreting scientific data in order to be used when making these comparisons.[23]

When it comes to leadership while considering feminism, neither men nor women have an inherited advantage when it comes to style or effectiveness. There are many traits that are associated with being a good leader that may be classified as feminine characteristics such as kindness and concern for others. While these traits may describe the feminine attitude with more depth, they may also be a shortcoming. Eagly states that women must have these caring traits while also be willing to show confidence and assertion, which many find to be incompatible.[24]

Selected works[edit]

  • Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  • Eagly, A. H., Baron, R. M., & Hamilton, V. L. (Eds.). (2004). The social psychology of group identity and social conflict: Theory, application, and practice. Washington, DC: APA Books.
  • Eagly, A. H., Beall, A., & Sternberg, R. S. (Eds.). (2004). The psychology of gender (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Eagly, A. H., & Sczesny, S. (Eds.). (2019). Gender roles in the future? Theoretical foundations and future research directions. Frontiers Media.

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Profile". Psychology's Feminist Voices. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Emerita Professor Alice H. Eagly elected to the National Academy of Sciences". Northwestern University. May 9, 2022. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  3. ^ "2022 NAS Election".
  4. ^ "Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions: Alice H. Eagly". American Psychologist. 64 (8): 642–658. November 2009. doi:10.1037/a0017804. PMID 19899858.
  5. ^ a b c "Curriculum Vita: Alice Hendrickson Eagly" (PDF). Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  6. ^ "ALICE H. EAGLY TO RECEIVE HONORARY DOCTORATE FROM ERASMUS UNIVERSITY". Erasmus University media and Public Relations Department. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Alice Eagly Oral History Interviews: Audio & Transcripts: Oral History: Research: Tobias Leadership Center: Indiana University". Tobias Leadership Center. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  8. ^ Aries, Elizabeth (1996). Men and Women in Interaction: Reconsidering the Differences. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-19-510358-8.
  9. ^ Koenig, Anne M.; Eagly, Alice H. (2014). "Evidence for the social role theory of stereotype content: Observations of groups' roles shape stereotypes". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 107 (3): 371–392. doi:10.1037/a0037215. PMID 25133722.
  10. ^ Eagly, Alice H.; Karau, Steven J. (2002). "Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders". Psychological Review. 109 (3): 573–598. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0033-295X.109.3.573. PMID 12088246. S2CID 1283792.
  11. ^ Eagly, Alice H.; Diekman, Amanda B. (December 2012). "Prejudice in context departs from attitudes toward groups". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 35 (6): 431–432. doi:10.1017/S0140525X12001185. PMID 23164355.
  12. ^ Eagly, Alice H.; Chaiken, Shelly (2007). "The Advantages of an Inclusive Definition of Attitude". Social Cognition. 25 (5): 582–602. doi:10.1521/soco.2007.25.5.582.
  13. ^ Koenig, Anne M.; Eagly, Alice H. (1 January 2014). "Extending Role Congruity Theory of Prejudice to Men and Women With Sex-Typed Mental Illnesses". Basic and Applied Social Psychology. 36 (1): 70–82. doi:10.1080/01973533.2013.856789. S2CID 142709404.
  14. ^ Eagly, Alice (2005). "Achieving relational authenticity in leadership: Does gender matter?". The Leadership Quarterly. 16 (3): 459–474. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.03.007.
  15. ^ Koenig, Anne M.; Eagly, Alice H.; Mitchell, Abigail A.; Ristikari, Tiina (2011). "Are leader stereotypes masculine? A meta-analysis of three research paradigms". Psychological Bulletin. 137 (4): 616–642. doi:10.1037/a0023557. PMID 21639606.
  16. ^ Eagly, Alice H.; Ashmore, Richard D.; Makhijani, Mona G.; Longo, Laura C. (July 1991). "What Is Beautiful Is Good, But...: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research on the Physical Attractiveness Stereotype". Psychological Bulletin. 110 (1): 109–128. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.110.1.109. ProQuest 614298842.
  17. ^ Eastwick, Paul W.; Eagly, Alice H.; Glick, Peter; Johannesen-Schmidt, Mary C.; Fiske, Susan T.; Blum, Ashley M. B.; Eckes, Thomas; Freiburger, Patricia; et al. (2006). "Is Traditional Gender Ideology Associated with Sex-Typed Mate Preferences? A Test in Nine Nations". Sex Roles. 54 (9–10): 603. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9027-x. S2CID 14766212.
  18. ^ Eagly, A. H.; Eastwick, P. W.; Johannesen-Schmidt, M. (2009). "Possible Selves in Marital Roles: The Impact of the Anticipated Division of Labor on the Mate Preferences of Women and Men". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 35 (4): 403–14. doi:10.1177/0146167208329696. PMID 19164705. S2CID 45583087.
  19. ^ Fetterolf, Janell; Eagly, Alice H. (July 2011). "Do young women expect gender equality in their future lives? An answer from a possible selves experiment". Sex Roles. 65 (1–2): 83–93. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-9981-9. S2CID 145427862.
  20. ^ Eagly, Alice H. (1997). "Sex differences in social behavior: Comparing social role theory and evolutionary psychology". American Psychologist. 52 (12): 1380–3. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.52.12.1380.b. PMID 9414607.
  21. ^ Eagly, Alice H. (2009). "The his and hers of prosocial behavior: An examination of the social psychology of gender". American Psychologist. 64 (8): 644–658. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.64.8.644. PMID 19899859.
  22. ^ Eagly, Alice H.; Wood, Wendy (November 2013). "Feminism and Evolutionary Psychology: Moving Forward". Sex Roles. 69 (9–10): 549–556. doi:10.1007/s11199-013-0315-y. S2CID 143559092. ProQuest 1447470636.
  23. ^ "Feminist Voices - Alice Eagly". Feminist Voices. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  24. ^ Eagly, Alice H. (2007). "Female Leadership Advantage and Disadvantage: Resolving the Contradictions". Psychology of Women Quarterly. 31 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2007.00326.x. S2CID 144210901.

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