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Tuesday, December 6 • 10:15am - 12:00pm
Underlying Opinions And Beliefs Affecting Custody Decisions

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This study examines custody hearings and how ambivalent sexism, both towards men and towards women, affect which parent is given custody in a heterosexual relationship. Ambivalent sexism is broken down into hostile and benevolent sexisms. Hostility and benevolence in ambivalence towards men and women are associated with limiting stereotypes, but hostility has “negative” intentions while benevolence has “positive” intentions. Benevolent sexist beliefs may lead people to be more likely to award custody to a female, because females are ascribed the nurturing stereotype. Hostile beliefs towards men may lead to a similar result where the mother would win custody. Examining ambivalence towards men and women will help describe the relationship between ambivalent sexism and legal decisions. University students were given a questionnaire which included six brief vignettes centered around custody trials. Vignettes were designed so that the characteristics of the parents differed between cases. Participants answered questions regarding custody decisions for these vignettes, as well as filling out the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory and Ambivalence Towards Men Inventory. We hypothesized that the mother would win custody more often in every scenario except where the mother was clearly demonstrated as a worse candidate than the father. We further hypothesized that people with high benevolent sexism and/or high hostility towards men would be more likely to award custody to the mother. These results, if observed, would suggest that the justice system may be swayed by ambivalent sexism when examining custody cases.

Tuesday December 6, 2016 10:15am - 12:00pm PST
Wilma Sherrill Center - Concourse