Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 1–2, pp 13–24 | Cite as

Gender Role Violations and Identity Misclassification: The Roles of Audience and Actor Variables

  • Jennifer K. Bosson
  • Jenel N. Taylor
  • Jennifer L. Prewitt-Freilino
Original Article

Abstract

When people violate certain social role norms, they risk false categorization into a stigmatized group. For example, heterosexual men who perform female stereotypic behaviors are often misclassified as gay. This identity misclassification is aversive because it threatens fundamental psychological needs. Findings presented here reveal that expectations of identity misclassification fuel heterosexual actors’ (N = 216) discomfort during imagined gender role violations and that audience variables that increase the likelihood of misclassification also increase role violators’ discomfort. Moreover, expectations of misclassification strongly predict people’s discomfort during gender role violations regardless of their standing along relevant actor dimensions (e.g., attitudes and self-views). These findings suggest that people’s—and particularly heterosexual men’s—expectations of identity misclassification are powerful mechanisms that underlie adherence to traditional gender role norms.

Keywords

Gender roles Role violations Stigma 

References

  1. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1970). The prediction of behavior from attitudinal and normative variables. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 6, 466–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  3. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88, 354–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bem, S. L., & Lenney, E. (1976). Sex typing and the avoidance of cross-sex behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 48–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bem, S. L., & Lewis, S. A. (1975). Sex role adaptability: One consequence of psychological androgyny. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 634–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blinde, E. M., & Taub, D. E. (1992). Women athletes as falsely accused deviants: Managing the lesbian stigma. Sociological Quarterly, 33, 521–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bosson, J. K., Haymovitz, E. L., & Pinel, E. C. (2004). When saying and doing diverge: The effects of stereotype threat on self-reported versus nonverbal anxiety. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 247–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bosson, J. K., Prewitt-Freilino, J. L., & Taylor, J. N. (2005). Role rigidity: A problem of identity misclassification? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 552–565.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Branscombe, N. R., Ellemers, N., Spears, R., & Doosje, B. (1999). The context and content of social identity threats. In N. Ellemers, R. Spears, & Doosje, B. (Eds.), Social identity: Context, commitment, content (pp. 35–58). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Burn, S. M. (2000). Heterosexuals’ use of “fag” and “queer” to deride one another: A contributor to heterosexism and stigma. Journal of Homosexuality, 40, 1–11.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1988). Personality in adulthood: A six year longitudinal study of self-reports and spouse ratings of the NEO personality inventory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 853–863.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1989). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma. Psychological Review, 96, 608–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crocker, J., Major, B., & Steele, C. (1998). Social stigma. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 504–553). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Deaux, K., & LaFrance, M. (1998). Gender. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 788–827). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  18. Deaux, K., & Lewis, L. L. (1984). Structure of gender stereotypes: Interrelationships among components and gender label. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 991–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  20. Eagly, A. H., & Steffen, V. J. (1984). Gender stereotypes stem from the distribution of women and men into social roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 735–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Eisler, R. M. (1995). The relationship between masculine gender role stress and men’s health risk: The validation of a construct. In R. F. Levant, & W. S. Pollack (Eds.), A new psychology of men (pp. 207–225). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  22. Eisler, R. M., & Skidmore, J. R. (1987). Masculine gender role stress: Scale development and component factors in the appraisal of stressful situations. Behavior Modification, 11, 123–136.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Feinman, S. (1981). Why is cross-sex-role behavior more approved for girls than for boys? A status characteristic approach. Sex Roles, 7, 289–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fiske, S. T. (1998). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 357–411). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  25. Garnets, L., & Pleck, J. H. (1979). Sex role identity, androgyny, and sex role transcendence: A sex role strain analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 3, 270–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gilbert, L. A., Waldroop, J. A., & Deutsch, C. J. (1981). Masculine and feminine stereotypes and adjustment: A reanalysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 5, 790–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  28. Herek, G. M. (1986). On heterosexual masculinity. American Behavioral Scientist, 29, 563–557.Google Scholar
  29. Herek, G. M. (2000). The psychology of sexual prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 19–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ickes, W. (1985). Sex-role influences on compatibility in relationships. In W. Ickes (Ed.), Compatible and incompatible relationships (pp. 187–208). Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. Jones, E. E., Farina, A., Hastorf, A. H., Markus, H., Miller, D. T., & Scott, R. A. (1984). Social stigma: The psychology of marked relationships. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  32. Kite, M. E., & Deaux, K. (1987). Gender belief systems: Homosexuality and the implicit inversion theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lamke, L. (1989). Marital adjustment among rural couples: The role of expressiveness. Sex Roles, 21, 579–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Larsen, K. S., & Long, E. (1988). Attitudes toward sex roles: Traditional or egalitarian? Sex Roles, 19, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Latané, B., & Darley, J. M. (1968). Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10, 215–221.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Leary, M. R., Tambor, E. S., Terdal, S. K., & Downs, D. L. (1995). Self-esteem as an interpersonal monitor: The sociometer hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 518–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lecky, P. (1945). Self-consistency: A theory of personality. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  38. Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J. (1992). A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one’s social identity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 302–318.Google Scholar
  39. Lytton, H., & Romney, D. M. (1991). Parents’ differential socialization of boys and girls: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 267–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marques, J. M., Yzerbyt, V. Y., & Leyens, J. (1988). The “black sheep effect”: Extremity of judgments toward ingroup members as a function of group identification. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18, 1–16.Google Scholar
  41. Martin, C. L. (1990). Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles. Sex Roles, 10, 445–456.Google Scholar
  42. McCreary, D. R. (1994). The male-role and avoiding femininity. Sex Roles, 31, 517–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Orne, M. T. (1962). On the social psychology of the psychological experiment: With particular reference to demand characteristics and their implications. American Psychologist, 17, 776–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pleck, J. H. (1981). The myth of masculinity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Pleck, J. (1995). The gender role strain paradigm: An update. In R. Levant, & W. Pollack (Eds.), A new psychology of men (pp. 11–32). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  46. Prewitt-Freilino, J. L., & Bosson, J. K. (2006). Identity misclassification arouses threats to belonging and coherence. Unpublished data, The University of Oklahoma.Google Scholar
  47. Pryor, J. B., & Whalen, N. J. (1997). A typology of sexual harassment: Characteristics of harassers and the social circumstances under which sexual harassment occurs. In W. O’Donohue (Ed.), Sexual harassment: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 130–151). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  48. Raja, S., & Stokes, J. P. (1998). Assessing attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: The Modern Homophobia Scale. Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity, 3, 113–134.Google Scholar
  49. Reis, H. T., & Shaver, P. (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. In S. Duck, D. F. Hay, S. E. Hobfoll, W. Ickes, & B. M. Montgomery (Eds.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (pp. 367–389). Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  50. Rudman, L. A., & Fairchild, K. (2004). Reactions to counterstereotypic behavior: The role of backlash in cultural stereotype maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 157–176.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Sandnabba, N. K., & Ahlberg, C. (1999). Parents’ attitudes and expectations about children’s cross-gender behavior. Sex Roles, 40, 249–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shaver, P. R., Papalia, D., Clark, C. L., Koski, L. R., Tidwell, M. C., & Nalbone, D. (1996). Androgyny and attachment security: Two related models of optimal personality. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 582–597.Google Scholar
  53. Snyder, M. (1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Social methodology 1982 (pp. 290–312). Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.Google Scholar
  55. Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1978). Masculinity and femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, and antecedents. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  56. Stake, J. E. (1997). Integrating expressiveness and instrumentality in real-life settings: A new perspective on the benefits of androgyny. Sex Roles, 37, 541–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52, 613–629.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Stokes, R., & Hewitt, J. P. (1976). Aligning actions. American Sociological Review, 41, 838–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Strauss, S. (2003). Sexual harassment in K-12. In M. Paludi, & C. A. Paludi Jr. (Eds.), Academic and workplace sexual harassment: A handbook of cultural, social science, management, and legal perspectives (pp. 105–145). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  60. Swann, W. B., Jr. (1990). To be adored or to be known? The interplay of self-enhancement and self-verification. In E. T. Higgens, & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior (Vol. 2, pp. 408–448). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  61. Swann, W. B., Jr., Rentfrow, P. J., & Guinn, J. S. (2003). Self-verification: The search for coherence. In M. R. Leary, & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 367–383). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Tafarodi, R. W., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (1995). Self-liking and self-competence as dimensions of global self-esteem: Initial validation of a measure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 322–342.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Wells, J. W., & Kline, W. B. (1987). Self-disclosure of homosexual orientation. Journal of Social Psychology, 127, 191–197.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Williams, C. L. (1989). Gender differences at work. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  65. Zadro, L., Williams, K. D., & Richardson, R. (2004). How low can you go? Ostracism by a computer is sufficient to lower self-reported levels of belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 560–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zucker, K. J., Bradley, S. J., & Sanikhani, M. (1997). Sex differences in referral rates of children with gender identity disorder: Some hypotheses. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25, 217–227.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer K. Bosson
    • 1
  • Jenel N. Taylor
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Prewitt-Freilino
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of OklahomaNormanUSA

Personalised recommendations