Language in the interview setting : the effect of powerful and powerless language on gender role interpretation

Thumbnail Image
Hlebasko, Hanna E.
Holtgraves, Thomas
Issue Date
Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
Other Identifiers

The glass ceiling is a pressing issue for women in the workplace, meaning women are not advancing into management positions at the same rate as men. A potential cause can be derived from Role Congruency Theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002) which states that agentic women who do not adhere to communal stereotypes are viewed as less competent for leadership positions. An example of agentic behavior is the use of powerful, direct language. Research suggests that women use indirect language more often than men (Carlie, 1990). While competent candidates often use powerful language in interviews, women who use powerful language could violate their gender roles and be perceived as incompetent for the job. The current research assessed how 108 participants recruited from introductory psychology, social media, and campus email evaluated candidates based on gender and the use of powerful or powerless language. While there was no gender by language interaction, a main effect for language indicated that those who used powerless language scored less on competency, hireability, and agentic traits.