SEX ROLE IDENTIFICATION OF ADOLESCENT BOYS LIVING IN RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTERS

KAREN MARCIA ZAGER, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study was designed to investigate the sex role identification of adolescent boys, ages 13 - 18, living in residential treatment centers. The variables investigated were: availability of the father (continued contact during the time in placement), length of placement, age of the adolescent, perceived power of the father, and perceived power of the father-surrogate (cottage counselor at the agency).^ A multiaspect conception of sex role identification was used, dividing sex role identification into its three component parts. Sex role orientation, measured with the Franck Drawing Completion Test, was the underlying, often unconscious perception of the masculinity or femininity of the self. Sex role preference, measured by the Activities and Game Preference Check List developed by Rosenberg & Sutton-Smith, was the individual's desire to adhere to cultural expectations of the masculine or feminine role. Sex role adoption, the masculinity or femininity of the observable behavior of the individual, was measured with the Behavior Rating Scale, which had been developed by Burns for use with institutionally placed children.^ The subjects were tested individually in private rooms of their cottages. Each boy completed the Franck Drawing Completion Test and the Activities and Game Preference Check List, both masculine and feminine scales. In addition, each boy completed a 20 item questionnaire that had been developed by Freedheim and Biller. This questionnaire assessed the perceived power of the father figure (in terms of nurturance, decision making, limit setting and competence) and was filled out twice--once for the father and once for the father-surrogate. Cottage counselors were then asked to fill out the Behavior Rating scale.^ Results showed that age of the boy and perceived power of the father were significant variables in sex role identification. The three other variables--availability of the father, length of placement, and perceived power of the father-surrogate--yielded no significant results.^ Age of the child showed its effects on the more conscious and overt levels of sex role (preference and adoption) but did not effect the internal, unconscious sense of masculinity (orientation). Older boys showed more restricted, narrowly defined sex role preferences, with fewer activities liked in either the masculine or feminine spheres. They behaved, however, in a significantly more masculine manner (adoption) than did younger boys. These findings seemed to point to the increasing influence of peers and social norms in the older adolescents. Especially in residential settings, peer group pressure can have a powerful effect. Yet sex role orientation, which seemed to be formed earlier in life, was not affected by any of the familial or extra-familial variables studied.^ The perceived power of the father was positively related to masculine sex role preference. The fact that the father's power did not have significant effects on any of the other measures of masculinity seemed to reflect the curtailment of the father's influence in residentially placed boys. The father's role may be devalued or the father-son relationship may have been severely disrupted by the separation. Furthermore, the lack of trust in paternal figures may have contributed to an inability to form other satisfactory relationships with father-surrogates. Thus, the perceived power of the father-surrogate had no effect on the boy's masculinity either.^ The overall characteristics of the sample (feminine orientation with highly masculine adoption) were typical of boys who experienced problems at home early in life, making it difficult to identify with the father and causing behavioral overcompensation for underlying femininity. These boys have sex role conflicts that persist into adolescence, and in general they have not been able to form a solid, consistent sex role identification. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

ZAGER, KAREN MARCIA, "SEX ROLE IDENTIFICATION OF ADOLESCENT BOYS LIVING IN RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTERS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8111324.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8111324

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