Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 305–314 | Cite as

The relationship of sex role to physical and psychological health

  • Arnold Small
  • Lorie Teagno
  • Karen Selz


This study examined the relationship of sex-role typology, medical and psychiatric symptomatology, and personality functioning in adolescents. Seventy-nine males and 101 females with an average age of 18.3 were administered the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), Offer Self Image Questionnaire (OSIQ), Self Rating Depression Scale (SRDS), and Cornell Medical Index (CMI). In comparison to males, females reported significantly more medical and psychiatric symptomatology, including depression. Females were also found to have more concern and empathy for others and a better developed superego. They reported greater involvement in making future plans and were more conservative in their sexual attitudes. Sex-role typology yielded no significant differences on the medical and psychiatric scales, but consistent differences were found on the OSIQ, a measure of adolescent personality functioning. In general, the results indicated that androgynous teenagers in every case differed from the undifferentiated ones, with the masculine and feminine groups occupying a mid-position. Androgynous individuals always showed a more favorable adjustment. Undifferentiated individuals had a poorer defensive structure, less adequate coping mechanisms and affective integration, more confusion about body boundaries, and more difficulty in object relations. Androgynous individuals, in short, possessed adaptive capabilities and resources, such as effective coping techniques, emotional integration, communication skills, and a well-defined self-concept (i.e., ego strength and a high level of psychological integration). Since these results were obtained on a measure constructed solely to assess adolescent functioning, it seems possible to screen and identify adolescents who may be entering adulthood lacking the emotional, social, and occupational capacity to function in an optimal fashion.


Sexual Attitude Self Rate Depression Scale Psychiatric Symptomatology Adolescent Functioning Defensive Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bem, S. L. (1974) The measurement of psychological androgyny.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 42: 155–162.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bem, S. L. (1975). Sex role adaptability: One consequence of psychological androgyny.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 31: 634–643.Google Scholar
  3. Bem, S. L. (1977). On the utility of alternative procedures for assessing psychological androgyny.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 45: 196–205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bem, S., and Lenney, E. (1976). Sex typing and the avoidance of cross-sex behavior.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 33: 48–54.Google Scholar
  5. Berzins, J. I., Welling, M. A., and Wetter, R. E. (1978). A new measure of psychological androgyny based on the Personality Research Form.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46: 126–138.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brodman, K., Erdman, A. J., Jr., Lorge, L., and Wolff, H. G. (1949). The Cornell Medical Index: An adjunct to medical interview.J. Am. Med. Assoc. 140: 530–534.Google Scholar
  7. Constantinople, A. (1973). Masculinity-femininity: An exception to a famous dictum. Psychol. Bull. 80: 389–407.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cristall, L., and Dean, R. (1976). Relationship of sex-role stereotypes and self-actualization.Psychol. Rep. 39: 842.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Erdwins, C., Small, A., and Gross, R. (1980). The relationship of sex role to self concept.J. Clin. Psychol. 36: 111–115.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Gaudreau, P. (1977). Factor analysis of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 45: 299–302.Google Scholar
  11. Gross, R., Batlis, N., Small, A., and Erdwins, C. (1979). Factor structure of the Bem Sex Role Inventory and Personal Attributes Questionnaire.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 47: 1122–1124.Google Scholar
  12. Heilbrun, A. B. (1976). Measurement of masculine and feminine sex role identities as independent dimensions.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 44: 183–190.Google Scholar
  13. Jones, W. H., Chernovetz, M. E., and Hansson, R. O. (1978). The enigma of androgyny: Differential implications for males and females?J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46: 298–313.Google Scholar
  14. Kelly, J. A., Caudill, S., Hathorn, S., and O'Brien, C. G. (1977). Socially undesirable sex-correlated characteristics: Implications for androgyny and adjustment.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 45: 1186–1187.Google Scholar
  15. Kelly, J., Furman, W., Young, V. (1978). Problems associated with the typological measurement of sex roles and androgyny.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46: 1574–1576.Google Scholar
  16. Kirk, R. (1968).Experimental design: Procedures for the behavior sciences. Brooks Cole, Belmont, Calif.Google Scholar
  17. Nevill, D. (1977). Sex roles and personality correlates.Hum. Relat. 30: 751–759.Google Scholar
  18. Offer, D. (1974).The Offer Self Image Questionnaire for Adolescents, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago and Stanford.Google Scholar
  19. Oppenheimer, V. (1975). Sex labeling of jobs. In Mednick, M., Tangri, S., and Hoffman, L. (eds.),Women and Achievement, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Rosen, J., and Weiss, A. (1979). Changes in medical problems and use of medical services following psychological intervention.Am. Psychologist 34: 420–431.Google Scholar
  21. Small, A., Erdwins, C., and Gross, R. (1979a). A comparison of the Bem Sex Role Inventory and the Heilbrun Masculinity and Feminity Scales.J. Personal. Assess. 43: 393–395.Google Scholar
  22. Small, A., Gross, R., Erdwins, C., and Gessner, T. (1979b). Social attitude correlates of sex role.J. Psychol. 101: 115–121.Google Scholar
  23. Spence, J., and Helmreich, R. (1978).Masculinity and Femininity. University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
  24. Spence, J., Helmreich, R., and Stapp, J. (1975). Ratings of self and peers in sex role attributes and their relation to self-esteem and conceptions of masculinity and femininity.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 32: 29–39.Google Scholar
  25. Zung, W. (1956). A self-rating depression scale.Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 12: 63–70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold Small
    • 1
  • Lorie Teagno
  • Karen Selz
  1. 1.George Mason UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations