Informed by prior work on social withdrawal and gender role norms, the present study utilizes data from a large sample of U.S. (n = 656) and Canadian (n = 560) university students (Mage = 19.65 years) to test if the degree to which behaviors of social withdrawal are judged to be acceptable depends on (a) the motivation underlying the behavior (i.e., social withdrawal due to shyness versus unsociability versus avoidance or differences in withdrawal type) and (b) the gender of the actor (or the hypothetical person depicted as engaging in the behavior) and (c) the gender of the participant (or the observer). Results showed that participants were most accepting of unsociability, although perceptions differed somewhat according to the genders of the actor and the participant. For instance, participants were more accepting of shyness and avoidance in men but more accepting of unsociability in women. Findings have important implications for the refinement of theory and research because they highlight the need to more carefully consider the oftentimes neglected interface between social withdrawal and gender.

Avoidance, Gender, Normative beliefs, Shyness, Social withdrawal, Unsociability
Sex Roles
Department of Psychology

Bowker, J.C. (Julie C.), Ooi, L.L. (Laura L.), Coplan, R, & Etkin, R.G. (Rebecca G.). (2019). When is it Okay to be Alone? Gender Differences in Normative Beliefs about Social Withdrawal in Emerging Adulthood. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-019-01065-5