Mind the gap: Wise reasoning attenuates gender pay gap scepticism in men

Justin P. Brienza, Anna Dorfman, D. Ramona Bobocel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We draw from theory on motivated reasoning to suggest that men would be more prone toward gender pay gap scepticism (PGS) than women because doing so maintains a valued but illusory belief that society is currently fair. Integrating theory on wisdom and wise reasoning—a self-transcendent thinking process composed of intellectual humility, contextualism, perspectivism and dialecticism—we also hypothesised that men who engaged in stronger (vs. weaker) wise reasoning about the pay gap would be less prone toward PGS. Two pre-registered studies (N = 651) supported the predictions: generally, men were more prone toward gender PGS than women, while wise reasoning tended to attenuate scepticism in men. The patterns of effects remained stable when controlling for income, education, political orientation, and perceptions of the effects of COVID-19 on women's economic and psychological well-being. Our studies pave the way for interventions that alter how people reason about inequities such as the gender pay gap in an effort to create fairer workplaces and societies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • gender pay gap
  • motivated reasoning
  • scepticism
  • wisdom
  • wise reasoning


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