Differences in men's and women's GLOBAL, SEXUAL, and IDEAL-SEXUAL expressiveness and instrumentality

Abstract

It has been argued that young men's and women's behavior in heterosexual sexual situations follows traditional, culturally defined gender role prescriptions, and alternatively, that expectations have shifted such that young men's and women's gender-relevant personality attributes are converging. Using the Bem Sex Role Inventory, primarily Caucasian men (n =94) and women (n =95) described their attributes globally (GLOBAL), and in a heterosexual sexual situation (SEXUAL). They also described the ideal attributes that a man and a woman should have in a heterosexual sexual situation (IDEAL-SEXUAL). The men's expressive scores were lowest for GLOBAL, intermediate for SEXUAL, and highest for IDEAL-SEXUAL. The women's expressive scores were higher for IDEAL-SEXUAL than for either GLOBAL or SEXUAL. Both the men's and the women's instrumental scores were lowest for SEXUAL, intermediate for IDEAL-SEXUAL and highest for GLOBAL. Both globally and in a sexual situation, men's instrumental scores were higher than women's, while women's expressive scores were higher than men's. These results suggest that men are more expressive in a sexual situations than they are globally because they perceive attributes reflecting expressiveness as ideal for a man in sexual situation. Women are less instrumental in sexual situations than they are globally, but may wish to be more instrumental than they are. Young women may lack the behavioral skills to enact their ideal, or may fear negative consequences for departing from gender-typed behavior in the sexual situation. There were no differences in expressiveness or instrumentality of the ideal man and the ideal woman in a sexual situation. It is concluded that, despite some convergence of attributes in sexual situations, traditional gender role prescriptions continue to guide young men's and women's behavior in sexual interactions, but not their conceptions of ideal behavior.

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Correspondence to E. Sandra Byers.

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This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of the first author's Ph.D. requirements at the University of New Brunswick, under the supervision of Dr. E. Sandra Byers.

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Lawrance, Ka., Taylor, D. & Byers, E.S. Differences in men's and women's GLOBAL, SEXUAL, and IDEAL-SEXUAL expressiveness and instrumentality. Sex Roles 34, 337–357 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01547806

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Keywords

  • Young Woman
  • Personality Attribute
  • Sexual Interaction
  • Ideal Behavior
  • Traditional Gender Role