Power tactic usage by gender at work and home: past, present, and future

Joseph Schwarzwald (Department of Psychology, Bar‐Ilan University, Ramat gan, Israel)
Meni Koslowsky (Department of Psychology, Bar‐Ilan University, Ramat gan, Israel)
Jessica Bernstein (Department of Psychology, Bar‐Ilan University, Ramat gan, Israel)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Publication date: 28 June 2013



Research has indicated that gender stereotypes, especially as they relate to women, are changing due to their growing numbers in the labor force. This research on power usage for gaining compliance in conflict situations examines whether a similar tendency exists for social power tactics, another aspect of the gender stereotype.


In two studies, one focusing on manager‐subordinates interactions (n=141) and the other on husband‐wife relationships (n=149), participants were presented with scenarios describing conflict situations relevant for each setting occurring in three time periods ‐ past, present, and future – and then estimated the frequency of power category (harsh/intermediate/soft) usage by men and women in each of these periods.


Findings indicated that gender stereotypical attributions eroded over time with a greater ascription of feminine tactics to males in the present and future. It was also found that harsh tactics usage was attributed to a greater extent in the work rather than the home setting.

Research limitations/implications:

In general, stereotype research assesses perceptions rather than reality. The perceptions measured here regarding past and future, though intrinsically informative, may reflect selective perception or social desirability.


This work indicated that the increasing involvement of women in the work force seems to have affected perceptions of the manner in which individuals exercise power in conflict situations. In particular, gender differences in power usage are viewed as diminishing over time; a tendency more discernible in the work world than at home.



Schwarzwald, J., Koslowsky, M. and Bernstein, J. (2013), "Power tactic usage by gender at work and home: past, present, and future", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 307-324. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-03-2011-0020

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