INSTRUMENTALITY, EXPRESSIVITY, AND PERSONALITY STRUCTURE IN FEMALES AND IMPLICATIONS FOR ADJUSTMENT

DENISE ANNE THOMAS, Fordham University

Abstract

The premises of sex-role research underwent major change with the introduction of orthogonal masculinity (M) and femininity (F) scales in the mid-seventies. M and F were no longer considered completely bipolar traits but were conceived of as capable of at least partial coexistence in an "androgynous" personality. The orthogonal components of M and F were identified as, respectively, instrumentality, denoting the capacity to function as an independent, self-assertive individual, and expressivity, denoting the capacity for warm and cooperative relations with others. In an effort to contribute to the development of a new conceptual framework that could serve as a guide to more fruitful empirical research, the present study investigated the relationship of instrumentality and expressivity to overall personality structure in females. In addition, implications of M and F for adjustment were explored through a contrast procedure to clarify whether it is appropriate to question socialization practices which promote the differential development of instrumentality and expressivity in males and females. An extensive literature review suggested that activity, extroversion, and emotional stability were masculine personality characteristics, while trust, empathy, orderliness, and conformity were feminine in value. The literature review further suggested that feminine females would show adjustment problems relative to masculine and adrogynous females.^ Two-hundred-twenty-two college females were administered the Personality Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ), a measure of instrumentality and expressivity yielding four sex-role classifications: androgynous (AF), masculine (MF), feminine (FF) and undifferentiated (UF). Also administered were the Comrey Personality Scales (CPS), which assess eight basic bipolar personality dimensions. Forty-seven college-age females, disabled by psychiatric hospitalization, were included in the contrast group. It was hypothesized that, among the normal group, MF and AF would exceed FF on extroversion, activity level, and emotional stability; FF and AF would exceed MF on trust, empathy, conformity, and orderliness. Contrasting normals matched for age and social status with the clinical group, it was hypothesized that FF would appear more frequently in the latter.^ Results confirmed that extroversion, activity, and emotional stability were masculine characteristics shared by MF and AF over FF. Rebelliousness also emerged as a masculine trait, but was typical only of MF. Empathy emerged as a feminine trait more characteristic of FF and AF than MF. Trust and orderliness were not found to vary as a function of M and F. Most striking among the findings was the emergence of AF as an independent sex-role group sharing in a unique blend of M and F personality characteristics. The contrast procedure showed no difference between frequencies of FF in the clinical and normal groups. A supplementary analysis clarified that all females lacking in masculine instrumentality (FF plus UF) were much more frequent in the clinical group.^ It was concluded that sex-role identity does have a significant organizing effect on personality in females. Consideration of the personality correlates of instrumentality and expressivity identified in the present study should make more fruitful behavioral research concerned with the transituational significance of sex-role identity. The present research also provides needed clarification regarding the significance of sex-role identity for adjustment: Femininity per se was not associated with maladjustment, but rather the lack of instrumentality in the personality. It was concluded that feminine socialization should support the development of both a positive feminine self-concept and instrumental skills. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

THOMAS, DENISE ANNE, "INSTRUMENTALITY, EXPRESSIVITY, AND PERSONALITY STRUCTURE IN FEMALES AND IMPLICATIONS FOR ADJUSTMENT" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8123471.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8123471

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