Examining the traditions of marriage proposals and surname changes reveal we adhere to marriage-related norms in the name of tradition or romance

“Girls don’t propose! ew.”: A mixed-methods examination of marriage tradition preferences and benevolent sexism in emerging adults

From Journal of Adolescent Research

Throughout the past several decades, the United States has seen a steady increase in women’s status. Overt sexism is on the decline and women are becoming increasingly well represented in prestigious, high-paying jobs. Despite these welcome improvements, many gender-typed norms related to heterosexual courtship and marriage have remained remarkably stable over time. In this study analysis was used to explore how emerging adults explained their preferences for two marriage traditions: marriage proposals and surname changes. Findings from a survey of 277 suggest people typically adhere to marriage-related norms in the name of tradition or romance. The researchers sought to establish an empirical connection between women’s and men’s marriage tradition preferences and their level of sexism. The hope is that the findings will spur heightened attention to marriage traditions and other heterosexual romantic relationship practices that have the distinction of being both ubiquitous and seldom questioned.

Abstract

Thematic analysis was used to explore how emerging adults explained their preferences for two marriage traditions: marriage proposals and surname changes. Quantitative analyses were subsequently used to examine the association between benevolent sexism and participants’ marriage-tradition preferences. A sample of 277 undergraduates (M = 19 years) completed a survey that included open- and closed-ended questions about attitudes toward marriage traditions and gender-role ideology. Results of the thematic analysis indicated that both women and men tended to hold traditional marriage preferences—especially with regards to marriage proposals. Multiple regression indicated that endorsing benevolent sexism was related to holding more traditional preferences. The findings are interpreted in relation to the role that hidden power may play in many heterosexual romantic relationships.

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Article details
Rachael D. Robnett, & Campbell Leaper (2012). “Girls Don’t Propose! Ew.”: A Mixed-Methods Examination of Marriage Tradition Preferences and Benevolent Sexism in Emerging Adults Journal of Adolescent Research : 10.1177/0743558412447871

     
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