Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Walter G. Klopfer
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology
1 online resource (46 pages)
Sex role, Anxiety, Empathy
Recently Sandra Bem, a psychologist at Stanford University has written about the importance of developing a conception of mental health which is free from culturally imposed definitions of masculinity and femininity. She believes that defining certain behaviors as appropriate only for women and other behaviors as only appropriate for men is restricting and debilitating for both sexes. This sex-typing of behaviors has led to masculinity being associated with assertiveness and dominance, pragmatism, problem solving and task orientation, and a concern for one's individuality, whereas femininity is associated with emotional sensitivity and concern for the welfare of others, the seeking of harmony between oneself and others, and passivity.
This study looks at the relationships between masculinity, femininity, anxiety and empathy. Specifically of concern is whether “Androgyny”, a new sex role, seems to be less debilitating and restricting than the traditional “Masculine” and “Feminine” roles as measured by anxiety and empathy scores. The sex role categories of Bem which are used in this study are derived from the Bem Sex Role Inventory.
The categories are: 1) “Masculine" referring to someone scoring high in masculinity and low in femininity, 2) “Feminine” referring to someone scoring high in femininity and low in masculinity, 3) “Androgynous” referring to someone scoring high in both masculinity and femininity, and 4) “Undifferentiated” referring to someone scoring low in both masculinity and femininity. All the masculine-feminine (M-F) scales referred to in the following studies give measures corresponding to Bem's categories of “Feminine” and “Masculine”. In traditional M-F scales scoring high in femininity is equivalent to a “Feminine” sex role and scoring high in masculinity is equivalent to a "Masculine" sex role. The reason for this is that traditional M-F scales are structured so that masculinity and femininity are opposite poles on the same dimension and therefore as one moves toward greater femininity one also moves away from masculinity and vice versa. Bem’s inventory, however, is constructed so that masculinity and femininity are orthogonal dimensions. This allows for the development of two other possible sex roles: “Androgynous” and “Undifferentiated”. No predictions will be made about the latter category.
Fantz, Charles M., "Relationships between sex role, empathy and anxiety" (1976). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2591.