Independence of Masculine and Feminine Traits: Empirical Exploration of a Prevailing Assumption

Heilbrun Jr., Alfred B.; Bailey, Becky A.
February 1986
Sex Roles;Feb86, Vol. 14 Issue 3-4, p105
Academic Journal
The prevailing assumption that masculinity and femininity develop independently was tested by examining the endorsement contingencies of these two types of sex role traits. The possible moderating effects of gender and stage of the feminist movement were also examined. Self-descriptions of 1,623 college undergraduates (688 males and 935 females) were considered, collected in 1958–1964, 1970–1974, and 1977–1982. The major finding failed to support the assumption of independence. A positive relation was found between the presence of masculine and feminine traits within the same individual, and this was generally true whether the person was male or female and whether the self-descriptions were collected as early as 1958–1964 or as late as 1977–1982. The facilitative effect was stronger in males than in females and was also stronger when more socially favorable traits were considered.


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