Faculty & Research The “Equal-Opportunity Jerk” Defense: Rudeness Can Obfuscate Gender Bias Feb 21, 2022 By Gabrielle AdamsPeter BelmiSora Jun The “Equal-Opportunity Jerk” Defense: Rudeness Can Obfuscate Gender Bias To address sexism, people must first recognize it. In this research, we identified a barrier that makes sexism hard to recognize: rudeness toward men. We found that observers judge a sexist perpetrator as less sexist if he is rude toward men. This occurs because rudeness toward men creates the illusion of gender blindness. We documented this phenomenon in five preregistered studies consisting of online adult participants and adult students from professional schools (total N = 4,663). These attributions are problematic because sexism and rudeness are not mutually exclusive. Men who hold sexist beliefs about women can be—and often are—rude toward other men. These attributions also discourage observers from holding perpetrators accountable for gender bias. Thus, rudeness toward men gives sexist perpetrators plausible deniability. It protects them and prevents the first perceptual step necessary to address sexism. Link to Article Areas of focus Social Psychology Gabrielle Adams Gabrielle Adams is an associate professor of public policy and business administration at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and in the Darden School of Business’s Leadership and Organizational Behavior area. Adams studies the processes and dynamics that give rise to ‘good’ decisions, policies and conditions in organizations. Read full bio Peter Belmi Sora Jun Related Content Gabrielle Adams Anger Damns the Innocent Research False accusations permeate social life—from the mundane blaming of other people to more serious accusations of infidelity and workplace wrongdoing. Importantly, false accusations can have grave consequences, including broken relationships, job loss, and reputational damage. In this article, we document an equally pernicious phenomenon—the misuse of anger as a cue to predict whether a suspect has been falsely accused. People systematically overlook subtractive changes Research A series of problem-solving experiments reveal that people are more likely to consider solutions that add features than solutions that remove them, even when removing features is more efficient. Batten Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Service, Research and Engagement News This academic year, Batten School professors won a slew of internal and external recognitions for excellence in teaching, service, research and engagement. Faculty Spotlight: Gabrielle Adams’ Work Represents ‘the Best of What We Do at Batten’ News Batten Professor Gabe Adams, whose latest research examines how sexism can be overlooked in the workplace, is the recipient of a 2022 Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.