Categorical and continuous measurement of sex-role orientation: Differences in associations with young adults' reports of well-being

H. Durell Johnson1, Renae McNair1, Alex Vojick1, Darcy Congdon1, Jennifer Monacelli1, Janine Lamont1
1Pennsylvania State University, United States
Cite this article:  Johnson, H. D., McNair, R., Vojick, A., Congdon, D., Monacelli, J., & Lamont, J. (2006). Categorical and continuous measurement of sex-role orientation: Differences in associations with young adults' reports of well-being. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 34, 59-76.

Volume 34 Issue 1 | e1457 | Published: February 2006 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.1.59

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Previous researchers have suggested many of the qualities necessary for successful well-being are masculine in nature. However, masculinity and femininity have been considered related constructs as opposed to being distinctly different sex-role characterizations. Therefore, we examined the hypothesized associations between sex-role orientation and reports of well-being by looking at the combined and separate contributions of masculinity and femininity reports. Responses from 286 college undergraduates to the BEM Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974) and measures of well-being (i.e., loneliness (UCLA Loneliness Scale, revised by Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980), personal discomfort (Personal Discomfort Subscale of the Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Social Introversion-Extroversion Scale, Graham, Schroeder, & Lilly, 1971), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Rosenberg, 1965), and social anxiety and avoidance (Social Anxiety and Social Avoidance Scale, Franke & Hymel, 1984)) indicated both categorical and continuous measures of sex role were associated with well-being. Examination of sex-role categories revealed participants with masculine and androgynous orientations reported higher well-being scores than did those with feminine and undifferentiated orientations. Further, examination of separate femininity and masculinity scores indicated that masculinity was positively – and femininity was negatively – associated with participant reports of well-being. Findings are discussed in terms of considering masculinity and femininity as separate measures of sex-role orientation when examining the association between sex roles and well-being.

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