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Self Perceptions and Social Misconceptions: The Implications of Gender Traits for Locus of Control and Life Satisfaction

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Are individuals who self-attribute both gender typical and gender atypical traits more satisfied with their lives than those who self-attribute only gender typical traits? It was assumed that men and women who self-attribute instrumental (‘masculine’) as well as expressive (‘feminine’) traits benefit both because they attain more control over their lives and also because a sense of control increases life satisfaction. Analyses of data from a representative Israeli (Jewish) sample of over 500 respondents show that men do indeed benefit from self-attribution of both instrumental and expressive traits, which increase their sense of control as well as their life satisfaction. Women, on the other hand, benefit only from the self-attribution of atypical (‘masculine’) traits, as their sense of control and their life satisfaction depend on instrumental traits, not on expressive ones. Thus, although the levels of control and life satisfaction that men and women report are similar, the process by which they reach these levels is different and gender-specific.

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  1. 1.

    Results of the confirmatory factor analysis may be obtained from the author.

  2. 2.

    Results of the confirmatory factor analysis may be obtained from the Author.

  3. 3.

    Results of the confirmatory factor analysis may be obtained from the Author.

  4. 4.

    Analyses are based on minimization of discrepancy functions (Browne 1982): \( C{\left( {\alpha ,a} \right)} = {\left[ {N - r} \right]}{\left[ {\frac{{{\sum\limits_{g = 1}^G {N^{{{\left( g \right)}}} f{\left( {\mu ^{{{\left( g \right)}}} ,{\sum {^{{{\left( g \right)}}} ;} }\;\overline{x} ^{{{\left( g \right)}}} ,S^{{{\left( g \right)}}} } \right)}} }}} {N}} \right]} = {\left[ {N - r} \right]}F{\left( {\alpha ,a} \right)}. \) where N (g) = the number of observations in group g; \( N = {\sum\limits_{g = 1} {N^{{{\left( g \right)}}} } } \) = total of observations in all groups combined; μ(g) = the mean vector for group g; ∑(g) = population covariance matrix for group g; S(g) = sample covariance matrix for group g; a =vector of order p containing the sample moments for all groups; α=vector of order p containing the population moments for all groups; F(α, a) = function that is minimized in fitting model to sample.

  5. 5.

    These findings may be inflated by the tendency of some respondents to agree with positive statements, as discussed by Mirowsky and Ross (1991).

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    Although there were no significant differences between men and women in age, religiosity, or income, these demographic factors were significantly correlated for women, but not for men (see Appendix). Thus, older women had lower incomes than younger women, and religious women had lower incomes than younger women. No such relationships were found for men.


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I wish to thank Ed Diener, Joan Chrisler, and the anonymous reviewer for their invaluable comments; Tova Benski, head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, and the Research Authority of the College of Management-Academic Studies for financing the research; and Mina Tzemach, Head of Dahaf Research Institute, for her assistance in constructing the questionnaire and collecting the data.

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Correspondence to Dahlia Moore.



Table 6 Pearson correlation: all variables.

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Moore, D. Self Perceptions and Social Misconceptions: The Implications of Gender Traits for Locus of Control and Life Satisfaction. Sex Roles 56, 767–780 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9238-9

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  • Life satisfaction
  • Sense of control
  • Instrumental and expressive gender traits