Confrontation as a driver of moral and social change in gendered relations : when can morality change?

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The goal of this thesis was to identify if and how can morality change after confrontation within gendered dynamics. In order to know if morality can change after confrontation, two studies were designed, each assessing a different aspect of morality, its processing (automatic and reflexive modes of moral cognitive process) and its content (moral values). In both studies, females were the confronters (as a programmed response and as a memory of a past confrontation). The first two articles report on two empirical studies, and the third article is a theoretical perspective. Finally, an additional fourth article (Appendix B), follows up on the theoretical discussion of the third article. In the first article, the cognitive moral processing of moral dilemmas (expressed in reaction time and perception of the dilemma´s difficulty) was investigated after male participants were confronted or not (experimental condition) by a bot passing as a female participant for sending sexist jokes. One week prior to the experiment, participants answered to several individual differences for a moderation hypothesis. An interaction was found in the opposite hypothesized direction, as participants with higher support for male norms against femininity are slower in answering moral dilemmas after being confronted. Further, qualitative analysis showed that confrontation increases defensive mechanisms and evaluative concerns, whereas not confronting leads to a lack of guilt. The second article focused on another dimension of morality, investigating participant´s support for egalitarian moral values after a past event were they were confronted by (or had a good experience with) a woman. Results show that, overall, participants with low levels of male norms regarding status and social dominance orientation had a greater support for diversity after remembering a confrontation while participants with higher levels of such individual differences value diversity more after remembering harmony. The third article works on a theoretical elaboration of conflict and confrontation´s role in promoting processes related to moral change, being it social or individual, as a result of the process of reflection that was done during this thesis. To argue that, conflict and confrontation are differentiated, predictors of conflict are explored in its objective and subjective components, the logic of conflict in its main weighting of pros and cons are explained, main reasons related to the resistance to confrontation are proposed, and the main reported outcomes are discussed. Finally, an additional paper was written to further explore the problem proposed in article three regarding the resistance to confrontation within the hegemonic forms of existence (Appendix B). It discusses how the social mobilization from the subordinate groups, and its production of decolonized knowledge, affects the appearance of harmony by disrupting shared knowledge and questioning legitimizing myths. Thus, intergroup conflict can also be understood as a symptom of rigidity to change when facing alternative subjective productions which questions the hegemonic social structure inherited – and still reproducing – from colonization. Taken together, these findings question notions of harmony in intergroup relations, by highlighting the experiences of agency of the subordinate groups, with a special emphasis on women. By showing that subordinate groups are fighting for the improvement of their social conditions, it questions if confrontation is not a reaction to violence instead of the initiation of it. Further, it researches what are the consequences of confrontation on morality, which also might affect mobilization for social change later on. We hope that this thesis can deepen conversations regarding the tension between diversity and equality and can shed light on processes of change, which are inevitable, for better or for worst.
Tesis (Doctor in Psychology)--Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2021