Predictors of Negative Reactions to Female Attorneys Expressing Anger in Court

33 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2018

See all articles by Jessica M. Salerno

Jessica M. Salerno

Arizona State University

Hannah Phalen

Arizona State University (ASU)

Date Written: June 29, 2018


We conducted secondary data analyses on two experiments examining reactions to attorney anger expressing in court. In two experiments, participants viewed a video of a closing statement. The closing statement was delivered by either a male or a female trial attorney in a calm or angry tone. Participants completed measures of perceptions of how effective the attorney was, and several individual difference factors that might predict greater bias against angry female attorneys (i.e ambivalent sexism scale, political conservatism, age). Across two experiments we found that individual difference measures that were theorized to be related to participants’ endorsement of traditional gender roles determined the level of bias against angry female attorneys. Angry (versus calm) female attorneys were penalized more and angry (versus calm) male attorneys were rewarded more as individual difference proxies for endorsing traditional gender roles increased (i.e., benevolent sexism, political conservatism, and age). Thus, the gender bias we demonstrated is likely to be due, in part, to the fact that angry women are being penalized for violating traditional gender roles by expressing anger, while angry men are being rewarded for conforming to traditional gender roles by expressing anger—despite the fact that the attorneys were all delivering the same exact arguments and similar displays of anger.

Suggested Citation

Salerno, Jessica M. and Phalen, Hannah, Predictors of Negative Reactions to Female Attorneys Expressing Anger in Court (June 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Jessica M. Salerno (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

4701 W Thunderbird Rd (MC 3051)
Glendale, AZ 85034
United States

Hannah Phalen

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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