THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEX-ROLE ORIENTATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS

THERESA MARIE KLIMEK-FRITZGES, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between gender, sex-role orientation, and psychological needs. Murray's need theory was used to select six personality characteristics that are conceptually related to stereotypic masculine and feminine personality characteristics proposed by Bem in her model of sex-role orientation and psychological androgyny. It was expected that if Bem's model was related to Murray's theory, persons of different sex-role orientations would have different psychological needs.^ A total of 205 adults, with a median age of 28 years and a median educational level of 16 years, were voluntary participants. Subjects resided in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York, were employed in various settings, and held positions in professional, technical, managerial, or clerical occupations.^ The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Personality Research Form-E (PRF-E) were administered in a counterbalanced manner to all subjects. BSRI masculinity and BSRI femininity scores were used in correlational analyses. Subjects' scores on the BSRI masculinity and femininity scales were also compared to the sample median of each scale. Each person was classified as either androgynous, masculine, feminine, or undifferentiated based on the median split procedure. These sex-role categories were used in discriminant analyses.^ The means and standard deviations of 21 personality variables derived from the PRF-E were calculated for each gender and sex-role group. Males and females differed in needs for autonomy, dominance, harmavoidance, nurturance, and succorance. Sex-role groups differed in needs for abasement, achievement, affiliation, aggression, autonomy, dominance, endurance, exhibition, harmavoidance, nurturance, social recognition, succorance, and desirability.^ The results of a canonical correlation analysis of six hypothesized needs indicated that psychological needs have a stronger relationship with sex role than with gender. This finding was replicated when the total sample was split randomly to form two groups composed of an equal number of subjects within each sex-role category and a canonical correlation analysis was recomputed on each group.^ The results of a discriminant analysis lead to the rejection of the hypothesis that there would be no differentiation among sex-role groups in needs for abasement, achievement, affiliation, autonomy, dominance, and nurturance. A discriminant analysis of the six hypothesized needs yielded two significant discriminant functions. The first function separated the masculine group from the feminine group, with the need for dominance making the largest contribution to the separation. The second function separated the androgynous group from the undifferentiated group, with the need for achievement providing the greatest contribution to the separation. Discriminatory power decreased when all 21 PRF-E variables were used in a second discriminant analysis. A replication study involving the six hypothesized needs yielded results similar to those obtained in the first discriminant analysis.^ The results of this study show that needs for abasement, achievement, affiliation, autonomy, dominance, and nurturance have a stronger relationship with sex role than with gender. Evidence is provided for the construct validity of the BSRI and for Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp's contention that high endorsement of masculine and feminine personality characteristics should be used to classify individuals as androgynous while low endorsement of these characteristics should be used to categorize persons as undifferentiated. The findings offer theoretical support for Bem's concept of psychological androgyny as the integration of masculine and feminine personality characteristics and demonstrate that the BSRI is capable of categorizing individuals into one of four sex-role groups, each of which is differentiated from the others on the basis of six hypothesized needs. ^

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

KLIMEK-FRITZGES, THERESA MARIE, "THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEX-ROLE ORIENTATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020992.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020992

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