Eagly’s Social Role Theory is a compelling framework that explains how gender roles and stereotypes influence the behavior of individuals in society. The theory, developed by social psychologist Alice Eagly in the 1970s, posits that gender differences in behavior are largely due to the social roles assigned to men and women in society.

What is Social Role Theory?

Social Role Theory is a concept that explains how individuals behave based on their social roles. According to this theory, each person has a set of expectations and obligations associated with their role in society. These roles are defined by cultural norms and values and can vary based on factors such as age, race, and gender.

How Does Eagly’s Social Role Theory Apply to Gender?

Eagly’s Social Role Theory argues that gender differences in behavior arise from the social roles assigned to men and women. These roles are often based on stereotypes about gender, which can be reinforced by media, education, and other cultural institutions.

For example, women are often expected to be caring and nurturing, while men are expected to be assertive and competitive. These stereotypes can influence the behavior of individuals through a process called gender socialization. This process occurs throughout an individual’s life as they learn what is considered appropriate behavior for their assigned gender.

The Importance of Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes play a critical role in shaping an individual’s behavior. They can influence how people perceive themselves as well as how they interact with others. Additionally, these stereotypes can impact an individual’s opportunities for success and advancement in various areas such as education or employment.

Challenging Gender Stereotypes

While social roles play a significant role in shaping our behavior, it is important to challenge gender stereotypes that reinforce inequality. By questioning these assumptions about what it means to be male or female, we can create more inclusive environments where people feel valued for their unique abilities and qualities.


Eagly’s Social Role Theory offers a compelling explanation for how gender roles and stereotypes influence our behavior. By recognizing the impact of these factors, we can work towards creating more inclusive and equitable environments. Ultimately, challenging gender stereotypes is not only essential for promoting equality but also for unlocking the full potential of individuals.