Perceived Gender Atypicality on High and Low Gender Role Rigidity
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The objective of this research was to study the physiological, emotional, and cognitive response to gender role threats in individuals with high and low gender role rigidity. Participants were selected based on their responses to the Masculine and Feminine Gender Role Stress scale (MGRS &FGRS) completed during a pre-screening session. At the test session, participants (41 men and 45 women) completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and a mating preferences questionnaire using the 13 criteria from Buss and Barnes that measured the strength of self-identification with traditionally masculine and feminine gender roles, levels of stress with their reported gender role, and preferences for prospective partners? gender-related traits and behaviors. After completing the questionnaire measures, participants viewed 20 pictures presented on a computer monitor depicting typical and atypical female gender role job professions (e.g. nurse and a construction worker), as well as typical and atypical male gender role job professions (e.g. businessman and a receptionist). During the 20-minute presentation of pictures, an eye tracker recorded visual attention and a heart rate activity watch monitored physiological response. At the end of the session, automatic cognitive responses were measured by having participants recall the content of the pictures they had viewed. Results suggest a difference in visual attention and emotional response between atypical and typical pictures, as well as a difference between the high and low gender role rigidity groups, such that compared to the low gender role rigidity group, the high gender role rigidity group showed an increase in correct responses of gender typical pictures on the memory task. Gender role rigidity influenced masculinity and femininity as well as certain mate preferences. Preliminary analyses of physiological responses to the pictures show a difference between men and women, and between high and low gender role stress groups. The results of this study will further our understanding of how learned stereotypes shape automatic cognitive processes, such as visual attention and memory, and how the rigidity of an individual?s gender role influences emotional and physiological reactions to the various situations.
Howarth, Aimee M. (2010). Perceived Gender Atypicality on High and Low Gender Role Rigidity. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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