Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Having and Doing Gender: Young Adults’ Expression of Gender when Resolving Conflicts with Friends and Romantic Partners

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Sex Roles Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

A communal orientation focusing on others is consistent with stereotypes of women’s social roles and personality traits, whereas an agentic orientation focusing more exclusively on oneself is consistent with men’s roles and traits. Using survey methods, we drew from Sandra Bem’s ideas to investigate whether gender differences in endorsement of communal and agentic conflict-management strategies varied depending on the peer relationship context. When gender differences were found, we investigated whether they were accounted for by masculine and feminine personality traits. College students (N = 116; 49 men and 67 women, 18–24 years-old) from the U.S. mid-Atlantic region rated stereotyped masculine and feminine traits as well as communal and agentic strategies for resolving hypothetical contexts in three peer contexts: same-gender friend, other-gender friend, and other-gender romantic partner. When conflicts involved a same-gender friend, women rated communal strategies higher than did men, but men’s and women’s ratings of communal strategies were similar in the other peer contexts. When conflicts involved an other-gender friend or romantic partner, women rated agentic strategies higher than did men, but men’s and women’s ratings of agentic strategies were similar when the conflict involved a same-gender friend. Women’s greater endorsement of communal strategies for managing conflicts with a same-gender friend was partially explained by their being more likely than men to endorse stereotypical feminine personality traits. Results are discussed in light of Bem’s (1974) once revolutionary, but still relevant, ideas that situational demands influence behavioral expressions of gender and that gender is a multidimensional construct.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Ashmore, R. D. (1990). Sex, gender, and the individual. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 486–526). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bakan, D. (1966). The duality of human existence: An essay on psychology and religion. Oxford, England: Rand McNally.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42, 155–162. doi:10.1037/h0036215.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Berg, C., & Strough, J. (2011). Problem solving across the lifespan. In K. Fingerman, C. A. Berg, T. Antonnuci, & J. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of lifespan psychology (pp. 239–268). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Black, K. (2000). Gender differences in adolescents’ behavior during conflict resolution tasks with best friends. Adolescence, 35, 499–512.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Christensen, A., & Heavey, C. L. (1990). Gender and social structure in the demand/withdraw pattern of marital conflict. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 73–81. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.59.1.73.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Constantinople, A. (1973). Masculinity-femininity: An exception to a famous dictum? Psychological Bulletin, 80, 389–407. doi:10.1037/h0035334.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • de Wied, M., Branje, S. J., & Meeus, W. H. (2007). Empathy and conflict resolution in friendship relations among adolescents. Aggressive Behavior, 33, 48–55. doi:10.1002/ab.20166.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Deaux, K., & Major, B. (1987). Putting gender into context: An interactive model of gender related behavior. Psychological Review, 94, 369–389. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.94.3.369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eldridge, K. A., & Christensen, A. (2002). Demand-withdraw communication during couple conflict: A review and analysis. In P. Noller & J. A. Feeney (Eds.), Understanding marriage: Developments in the study of couple interaction (pp. 289–322). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511500077.016.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Feldman, S. S., & Gowen, L. K. (1998). Conflict negotiation tactics in romantic relationships in high school students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 691–717. doi:10.1023/A:1022857731497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Furman, W., Simon, V. A., Shaffer, L., & Bouchey, H. A. (2002). Adolescents’ working models and styles for relationships with parents, friends, and romantic partners. Child Development, 73, 241–255. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00403.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gottman, J. M., Coan, J., Carrere, S., & Swanson, C. (1998). Predicting marital happiness and stability from newlywed interactions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 5–22. doi:10.2307/353438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haines, E. L., Deaux, K., & Lofaro, N. (2016). The times they are a-changing... or are they not? A comparison of gender stereotypes, 1983–2014. Psychology of Women Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/BF02766650.

  • Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huston, A. C. (1983). Sex-typing. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Socialization, personality, and social development (Vol. 4, pp. 387–467). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hyde, J. S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60, 581–592. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.6.581.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Keener, E., Strough, J., & DiDonato, L. (2012). Gender differences and similarities in strategies for managing conflict with friends and romantic partners. Sex Roles, 67, 83–97. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0131-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leaper, C. (1991). Influence and involvement in children's discourse: Age, gender, and partner effects. Child Development, 62, 797–811. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1991.tb01570.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Leaper, C. (1994). Exploring the consequences of gender segregation on social relationships. In C. Leaper (Ed.), Childhood gender segregation: Causes and consequences (pp. 67–86). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lemaster, P., Strough, J., Stoiko, R., & DiDonato, L. (2015a). To have and to do: Masculine facets of gender predict men’s and women’s attitudes about gender equality among college students. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16, 195–205. doi:10.1037/a0036429.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lemaster, P., Delaney, R., & Strough, J. (2015b). Crossover, degendering, or…? A multidimensional approach to life-span gender development. Sex Roles, Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s11199-015-0563-0.

  • Leszczynski, J. P., & Strough, J. (2008). Contextual specificity of masculinity and femininity. Social Development, 17, 719–736. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00443.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, D. M., Minton, J. W., Roy, J., & Lewicki, N. (2011). Essentials of negotiation. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lubinski, D., Tellegen, A., & Butcher, J. N. (1983). Masculinity, femininity, and androgyny viewed and assessed as distinct concepts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 428–439. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.44.2.428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maccoby, E. E. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maccoby, E. E. (2000). Perspectives on gender development. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 4, 398–406. doi:10.1080/016502500750037946.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mehta, C. M., & Strough, J. (2009). Sex segregation in friendships and normative contexts across the life span. Developmental Review, 29, 201–220. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2009.06.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mehta, C. M., & Strough, J. (2010). Gender segregation and gender-typing in adolescence. Sex Roles, 63, 251–263. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02138.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monsour, M. (2002). Women and men as friends: Relationships across the life span in the twenty-first century. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nunnally, J. C. (1967). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Owens, L., Daly, A., & Slee, P. (2005). Sex and age differences in victimisation and conflict resolution among adolescents in a south Australian school. Aggressive Behavior, 31, 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pedhazur, E. J., & Schmelkin, L. P. (2013). Measurement, design, and analysis: An integrated approach. New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pickard, J., & Strough, J. (2003). Variability in goals as a function of same-sex and other-sex contexts. Sex Roles, 49, 643–652. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000003134.59267.82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raven, B. H. (1993). The bases of power: Origins and recent developments. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 227–251. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1993.tb01191.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Renk, K., & Creasey, G. (2003). The relationship of gender, gender identity and coping strategies in late adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 159–168. doi:10.1016/S0140-1971(02)00135-5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rose, A. J., & Asher, S. R. (1999). Children’s goals and strategies in response to conflicts within a friendship. Developmental Psychology, 35, 69–79. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.35.1.69.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: Potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 98–131. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.98.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L., & Berenbaum, S. A. (2006). Gender development. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3, Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 858–932). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simon, V. A., & Furman, W. (2010). Interparental conflict and adolescents' romantic relationship conflict. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20, 188–209. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2009.00635.x.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Sorkin, D. H., & Rook, K. S. (2006). Dealing with negative social exchanges in later life: Coping responses, goals, and effectiveness. Psychology and Aging, 2, 715–725.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spence, J. T. (1991). Do the BSRI and PAQ measure the same or different concepts? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 141–165. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1991.tb00483.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1978). Masculinity and femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates and antecedents. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1980). Masculine instrumentality and feminine expressiveness: Their relationships with sex role attitudes and behaviors. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 5, 147–163. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1980.tb00951.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1981). Androgyny versus gender schema: A comment on Bem's gender schema theory. Psychological Review, 88, 365–368. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.88.4.365.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strough, J., & Berg, C. A. (2000). Goals as a mediator of gender differences in high-affiliation dyadic conversations. Developmental Psychology, 36, 117–125. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.36.1.117.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Strough, J., & Keener, E. (2014). Interpersonal problem solving across the life span. In P. Verhaeghen & C. Hertzog (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of emotion, social cognition, and everyday problem solving during adulthood. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strough, J., Leszczynski, J. P., Neely, T. L., Flinn, J. A., & Margaret, J. (2007). From adolescence to later adulthood: Femininity, masculinity, and androgyny in six age groups. Sex Roles, 57, 385–396. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9282-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suh, E. J., Moskowitz, D. S., Fournier, M. A., & Zuroff, D. C. (2004). Gender and relationships: Influences on agentic and communal behaviors. Personal Relationships, 11, 41–59. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00070.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Twenge, J. M. (1997). Changes in masculine and feminine traits of over time: A meta-analysis. Sex Roles, 36, 305–325. doi:10.1007/BF02766650.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Twenge, J. M. (1999). Mapping gender. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23, 485–502. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1999.tb00377.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Washburn-Ormachea, J. M., Hillman, S. B., & Sawilowsky, S. S. (2004). Gender and gender-role orientation differences on adolescents' coping with peer stressors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, 31–40. doi:10.1023/A:1027330213113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1, 125–151. doi:10.1177/0891243287001002002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Whiting, B., & Edwards, C. P. (1988). A cross-cultural analysis of sex differences in the behavior of children aged 3 through 11. In G. Handel (Ed.), Childhood socialization (pp. 281–297). Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2015). Two traditions of research on gender identity. Sex Roles, 73, 461–473. doi:10.1007/s11199-015-0480-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Emily Keener.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Statement

This manuscript is not under review at another journal and has not been published elsewhere. IRB approval was granted for this study. Data was collected in accordance with APA ethical guidelines.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Keener, E., Strough, J. Having and Doing Gender: Young Adults’ Expression of Gender when Resolving Conflicts with Friends and Romantic Partners. Sex Roles 76, 615–626 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0644-8

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0644-8

Keywords

Navigation