Sex Roles

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 481-501

First online:

Attitudes toward male roles among adolescent males: A discriminant validity analysis

  • Joseph H. PleckAffiliated withCenter for Research on Women, Wellesley College
  • , Freya L. SonensteinAffiliated withUrban Institute
  • , Leighton C. KuAffiliated withUrban Institute

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This study investigates the discriminant validity of a measure of attitudes toward male roles, i.e., beliefs about the importance of men adhering to cultural defined standards for masculinity. Using data from the 1988 National Survey of Adolescent Males, the Male Role Attitude Scale (MRAS) is evaluated in terms of (1) its independence from measures of attitudes toward female roles, and of attitudes toward gender roles and relationships, and (2) its differential correlates with and incremental ability to explain variance in criterion variables compared to measures of these two other gender-related attitudes. As predicted, the MRAS is unrelated to attitudes toward the female role, but is significantly associated with attitudes toward gender roles and relationships. As further predicted, the MRAS, but not attitudes toward women or attitudes toward gender roles and relationships, is associated with homophobic attitudes toward male homosexuality and with traditional male procreative attitudes. In addition, the MRAS explains significant incremental variance in these criterion measures when attitude toward female roles and attitude toward gender roles and relationships are controlled for. These results support the theoretical argument that attitudes toward male roles are conceptually distinct from the other gender-related attitudes examined here.