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Department of Psychology


This study examined how meritocracy beliefs may buffer women from the negative psychological effects of an acute situation of gender discrimination. Although some research indirectly suggests that believing the meritocracy exists may increase well-being, group consciousness theories (e.g., Bartky, 1977) suggest that disbelieving the meritocracy exists will enhance psychological adjustment to gender discrimination. Women who reported little past experience with discrimination, and either believed or disbelieved the meritocracy exists were exposed to either a laboratory situation of discrimination or a non-discrimination failure (control) condition. Consistent with group consciousness theories, women experiencing discrimination reported greater well-being if they disbelieved the meritocracy exists, than if they were believers. In contrast, women in the control condition reported greater well-being if they believed the meritocracy exists than if they were disbelievers. Implications for coping with discrimination were discussed.

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