Mindfulness, Ambivalent Sexism and Women's Health Outcomes

Keith Ryan Chichester


This research investigates whether trait mindfulness, or contemplative awareness of one’s surroundings changes the relationship between experiencing ambivalent sexism and the development of depressive symptoms. Ambivalent sexism has benevolent and hostile components. Hostile sexism refers to experiences or attitudes that aim to enforce rigid, traditional gender roles. Benevolent sexism is often paternalistic and encompasses attitudes that perpetuate women as being the gentler sex in need of protection. Although sexism, in general, has been linked with negative mental health outcomes, it remains unclear how these consequences differ between hostile and benevolent exposure. Because mindfulness has been shown to mitigate the deleterious effects of stereotype threat, anxiety and discriminatory experiences, it was hypothesized that aspects of mindfulness related to emotional regulation may alter the relationships between each component of ambivalent sexism and scores on a depression inventory.1,2,3 Undergraduate students completed an electronic survey, which included a series of questionnaires primarily aimed at measuring trait mindfulness, experiences with ambivalent sexism and aspects mental health.  Simple slope analyses indicated that high levels of the nonjudgment and nonreaction subscales of mindfulness were associated with reduced depressive symptoms across both types of sexism in female students. These findings illustrate that high levels of trait mindfulness may be protective against the development negative health outcomes.


Ambivalent Sexism, Mindfulness, Depression, Mental Health

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