If “Boys Will Be Boys,” Then Girls Will Be Victims? A Meta-Analytic Review of the Research That Relates Masculine Ideology to Sexual Aggression

Abstract

In feminist sociocultural models of rape, extreme adherence to the masculine gender role is implicated in the perpetuation of sexual assault against women in that it encourages men to be dominant and aggressive, and it teaches that women are inferior to men and are sometimes worthy of victimization. Many researchers have linked components of masculine ideology to self-reports of past sexual aggression or future likelihood to rape. Thirty-nine effect sizes were examined in this meta-analysis across 11 different measures of masculine ideology to determine how strongly each index of masculine ideology was associated with sexual aggression. Although 10 of the 11 effect sizes were statistically significant, the 2 largest effects were for Malamuth's construct of “hostile masculinity” (e.g., Malamuth, Sockloskie, Koss, & Tanaka, 1991) and Mosher's construct of “hypermasculinity” (e.g., Mosher & Sirkin, 1984), both of which measure multiple components of masculine ideology including acceptance of aggression against women and negative, hostile beliefs about women. The next strongest relationships concerned measures of agreement that men are dominant over women and measures of hostility toward women. Scores on general measures of gender-role adherence, such as the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974), were not strong predictors of sexual aggression. Sociocultural models that link patriarchal masculine id eology and situational factors to sexual aggression should prove most predictive in future research.

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

REFERENCES

  1. Abbey, A., & Harnis, R. J. (1995). Perceptions of sexual intent: The role of gender, alcohol consumption, and rape supportive attitudes. Sex Roles, 32, 297-313.

    Google Scholar 

  2. *Abbey, A., McAuslan, P., & Ross, L. T. (1998). Sexual assault perpetration by college men: The role of alcohol, misperception of sexual intent, and sexual beliefs and experiences. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 17, 167-195.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Abbey, A., McAuslan, P., Ross, L T., & Zawacki, T. (1999). Alcohol expectancies regarding sex, aggression, and sexual vunerability: Reliability and validity assessment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 13, 174-182.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Abbey, A., Ross, L. T., McDuffie, D., & McAuslan, P. (1996). Alcohol and dating risk factors for sexual assault among college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 147-169.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Allison, J. A., & Wrightsman, L. S. (1993). Rape: The misunderstood crime. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bell, S. T., Kuriloff, P. J., Lottes, I., Nathanson, J., Judge, T., & Fogelson-Turet, K. (1992). Rape callousness in college freshmen: An empirical investigation of the sociocultural model of aggression toward women. Journal of College Student Development, 33, 454-461.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42, 155-162.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brannon, R. (1976). The male sex role: Our culture's blueprint of manhood, and what it's done for us lately. In D. David & R. Brannon (Eds.), The fortynine percent majority (pp. 1-45). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  9. *Briere, J., & Malamuth, N. M. (1983). Self-reported likelihood of sexually aggressive behavior: Attitudinal versus sexual explanations. Journal of Research in Personality, 17, 315-323.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Browmiller, S. (1975). Against our will: Men, women, and rape. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and supports for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 217-230.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Burt, M. R. (1983). Justifying personal violence: A comparison of rapists and the general public. Victimology, 8, 131-150.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Byers, E. S. (1996). How well does the traditional sexual script explain sexual coercion? Review of a program of research. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 8, 7-25.

    Google Scholar 

  14. *Byers, E. S., & Eno, R. J. (1991). Predicting men's sexual coercion and aggression from attitudes, dating history, and sexual response. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 4, 55-70.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Calhoun, K. S., Bernat, J. A., Clum, G. A., & Frame, C. L. (1997). Sexual coercion and attraction to sexual aggression in a community sample of young men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12, 392-406.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Check, J. V. P. (1985). The hostility toward women scale. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg.

    Google Scholar 

  17. *Check, J. V. P., & Malamuth, N. M. (1983). Sex role stereotyping and reactions to depictions of stranger versus acquaintance rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 344-356.

    Google Scholar 

  18. *Check, J. V. P., & Malamuth, N. M. (1985). An empirical assessment of some feminist hypotheses about rape. International Journal of Women's Studies, 8, 319-325.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical power for the behavioral sciences (Rev. ed.). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Cowan, G., Lee, C., Levy, D., & Snyder, D. (1988). Dominance and inequality in X-rated videocassettes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 12, 299-311.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Craig, M. E. (1990). Coercive sexuality in dating relationships: A situational model. Clinical Psychology review, 10, 395-423.

    Google Scholar 

  22. *Dean, K., & Malamuth, N. M. (1997). Characteristics of men who aggress sexually and of men who imagine aggressing: Risk and moderating variables. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 449-455.

    Google Scholar 

  23. DeKeseredy, W. S. (1997). Measuring sexual abuse in Canadian university/college dating relationships: The contribution of a national representative survey. In M. D. Schwartz (Ed.), Researching sexual violence against women: Methodological and personal perspectives (pp. 43-53). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  24. DeLamater, J. D., & Hyde, J. S. (1998). Essentialism vs. social constructionism in the study of human sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 10-18.

    Google Scholar 

  25. *Demare, D., Briere, J., & Lips, H. M. (1988). Violent pornography and self-reported likelihood of sexual aggression. Journal of Research in Personality, 22, 140-153.

    Google Scholar 

  26. *Demare, D., Lips, H. M., & Briere, J. (1993). Sexually violent pornography, anti-women attitudes, and sexual aggression: A structural equation model. Journal of Research in Personality, 27, 285-300.

    Google Scholar 

  27. *Epps, K. J., Haworth, R., & Swaffer, T. (1993). Attitudes toward women and rape among male adolescents convicted of sexual versus nonsexual crimes. Journal of Psychology, 127, 501-506.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Fischer, A. R., & Good, G. E. (1998). Newdirections for the study of gender role attitudes: A cluster analytic investigation of masculine ideologies. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 371-384.

    Google Scholar 

  29. *Greendlinger, V., & Byrne, D. (1987). Coercive sexual fantasies of college males as predictors of self-reported likelihood to rape and overt sexual aggression. Journal of Sex Research, 23, 1-11.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Griffin, S. (1979). Rape: The power of consciousness. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Gross, A. E. (1978). The male role and heterosexual behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 34, 87-107.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Groth, A. N., Burgess, A. W., & Holmstrom, L. L (1977). Rape: Power, anger, and sexuality. American Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 1239-1243.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hall, G. C. N., & Barongan, C. (1997). Prevention of sexual aggression: Sociocultural risk and protective factors. American Psychologist, 52, 5-14.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Hall, G. C. N., & Hirschman, R. (1991). Toward a theory of sexual aggression: A quadripartite model. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 662-669.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Hall, G. C. N., Hirschman, R., & Oliver, L. L. (1994). Ignoring a woman's dislike of sexual material: Sexually impositional behavior in the laboratory. Journal of Sex Research, 31, 3-10.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Hall, G. C. N., Shondrick, D. D., & Hirschman, R. (1993). The role of sexual arousal in sexually aggressive behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 1091-1095.

    Google Scholar 

  37. *Hall, G. C. N., Sue, S., Narang, D. S., & Lilly, R. S. (2000). Culture-specific models of men's sexual aggression: Intra-and interpersonal determinants. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 6, 252-267.

    Google Scholar 

  38. *Hamburger, M. E., Hogben, M., McGowan, S., & Dawson, L. J. (1996). Assessment of hypergender ideology: Development and initial validation of a gender-neutral measures of adherence to extreme gender-role beliefs. Journal of Research in Personality, 30, 157-178.

    Google Scholar 

  39. *Hersh, K., & Gray-Little, B. (1998). Psychopathic traits and attitudes associated with self-reported sexual aggression in college men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 456-471.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Hill, M. S., & Fischer, A. R. (2001). Does entitlement mediate the link between masculinity and rape-related variables? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48, 39-50.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Kanin, E. J. (1984). Date rape: Unofficial criminals and victims. Victimology, 9, 95-108.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Kanin, E. J. (1985). Date rapists, differential sexual socialization and relative deprivation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 14, 219-231.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Kilmartin, C. T. (1994). The masculine self. New York: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  44. *Koss, M. P., & Dinero, T. E. (1988). Predictors of sexual aggression among a national sample of male college students. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 52(8), 133-147.

    Google Scholar 

  45. *Koss, M. P., & Gaines, J. A. (1993). The prediction of sexual aggression by alcohol use, athletic participation, and fraternity affiliation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8, 94-108.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Koss, M. P., & Gidycz, C. A. (1985). The Sexual Experiences Survey: Reliability and validity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 422-423.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Koss, M. P., Gidcycz, C. J., & Wisniewski, N. (1987). The scope of rape: Sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of students in higher education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 162-170.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Koss, M. P., & Oros, C. J. (1982). Sexual Experiences Survey: A research instrument investigating sexual aggression and victimization. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50, 455-457.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Krahe, B. (2000). Sexual scripts and sexual aggression. In T. Eckes & H. M. Trautner (Eds.), The developmental social psychology of gender (pp. 273-292). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  50. *Lackie, L., & de Man, A. E. (1997). Correlates of sexual aggression among male university students. Sex Roles, 37, 451-457.

    Google Scholar 

  51. *Lalumiere, M. L., & Quinsey, V. L. (1996). Sexual deviance, antisociality, mating effort, and the use of sexually coercive behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 33-48.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Lisak, D. (1991). Sexual aggression, masculinity, and fathers. Signs, 16, 238-262.

    Google Scholar 

  53. *Lisak, D. (1994). Subjective assessment of relationships with parents by sexually aggressive and nonaggressive men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9, 399-411.

    Google Scholar 

  54. *Lisak, D., & Ivan, C. (1995). Deficits in intimacy and empathy in sexually aggressive men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 296-308.

    Google Scholar 

  55. *Lisak, D., & Roth, S. (1988). Motivational factors in nonincarcerated sexually aggressive men. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 795-802.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Lisak, D., & Roth, S. (1990). Motives and psychodynamics of self-reported, unincarcerated rapists. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60, 268-278.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1994). Rape myths: In review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 133-164.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Lottes, I. L. (1988). Sexual socialization and attitudes toward rape. In A. W. Burgess (Ed.), Rape and sexual assault II: A researcher's handbook (pp. 193-220). New York: Garland.

    Google Scholar 

  59. *Mahoney, E. R., Shively, M. D., & Traw, M. (1986). Sexual coercion and assault: Male socialization and female risk. Sexual Coercion and Assault, 1, 2-8.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Malamuth, N. M. (1981). Rape proclivity among males. Journal of Social Issues, 37, 138-157.

    Google Scholar 

  61. *Malamuth, N. M. (1986). Predictors of naturalistic sexual aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 953-962.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Malamuth, N. M. (1989a). The Attraction to Sexual Aggression Scale: Part 1. Journal of Sex Research, 26, 26-49.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Malamuth, N. M. (1989b). The Attraction to Sexual Aggression Scale: Part 2. Journal of Sex Research, 26, 324-354.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Malamuth, N. M. (1996). The confluence model of sexual aggression: Feminist and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Malamuth, N. M., & Brown, L. M. (1994). Sexually aggressive men's perceptions of women's communications: Testing three explanations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 699-712.

    Google Scholar 

  66. *Malamuth, N. M., & Check, J. V. P. (1983). Sexual arousal to rape depictions: Individual differences. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 55-67.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Malamuth, N. M., Haber, S., & Feshbach, S. (1980). Testing hypotheses regarding rape: Exposure to sexual violence, sex differences, and the “normality” of rapists. Journal of Research in Personality, 14, 121-137.

    Google Scholar 

  68. *Malamuth, N. M., Linz, D., Heavey, C. L., Barnes, G., & Acker, M. (1995). Using the confluence model of sexual aggression to predict men's conflict with women: A 10-year follow-up study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 353-369.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Malamuth, N. M., Scokloski, R. J., Koss, M. P., & Tanaka, J. S. (1991). Characteristics of aggressors against women: Testing a model using a national sample of college students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 670-681.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Malamuth, N. M., & Thornhill, N. W. (1994). Hostile masculinity, sexual aggression, and gender-biased domineeringness in conversations. Aggressive Behavior, 20, 185-293.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Marolla, J., & Scully, D. (1986). Attitudes towards women, violence, and rape: A comparison of convicted rapists and other felons. Deviant Behavior, 7, 337-355.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Matschiner, M., & Murnen, S. K. (1999). Hyperfemininity and influence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23, 631-642.

    Google Scholar 

  73. *Mosher, D. L., & Anderson, R. D. (1986). Macho personality, sexual aggression, and reactions to guided imagery of realistic rape. Journal of Research in Personality, 20, 77-94.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Mosher, D. L., & Sirkin, M. (1984). Measuring a macho personality constellation. Journal of Research in Personality, 18, 150-163.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Mosher, D. L., & Tomkins, S. S. (1988). Scripting the macho man: Hypermasculine socialization and enculturation. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 60-84.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Muehlenhard, C. L., & Kimes, L. A. (1999). The social construction of violence: The case of sexual and domestic violence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 234-245.

    Google Scholar 

  77. *Muehlenhard, C. L., & Linton, M. A. (1987). Date rape and sexual aggression in dating situations: Incidence and risk factors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 186-196.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Murnen, S. K. (1998). The Hyperfemininity Scale. In C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber, R. Bauserman, G. Scheer, & S. L. David (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures (pp. 258-261). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  79. *Murnen, S. K. (1988, November). The sexual behavior sequence of sexually coercive college males. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, San Francisco, CA.

  80. Murnen, S. K. (2000). Gender and the use of sexually degrading language. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 319-327.

    Google Scholar 

  81. *Murphy, W. D., Coleman, E. M., & Haynes, M. R. (1986). Factors related to coercive sexual behavior in a nonclinical sample of males. Violence and Victims, 1, 255-278.

    Google Scholar 

  82. Oddone-Paolucci, E., Genuis, M., & Violato, C. (2000). A meta-analysis of the published research on the effects of pornography. In C. Violato, E. Oddone-Paolucci, & M. Genius (Eds.), The changing family and child development (pp. 48-50). Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  83. *Osland, J. A., Fitch, M., & Willis, E. E. (1996). Likelihood to rape in college males. Sex Roles, 35, 171-183.

    Google Scholar 

  84. *Ouimette, P. C., & Riggs, D. (1998). Testing a mediational model of sexually aggressive behavior in nonincarcerated perpetrators. Violence and Victims, 13, 117-130.

    Google Scholar 

  85. *Petty, G. M., & Dawson, B. (1989). Sexual aggression in normal men: Incidence, beliefs, and personality characteristics. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 355-362.

    Google Scholar 

  86. *Rapaport, K., & Burkhart, B. R. (1984). Personality and attitudinal characteristics of sexually coercive college males. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 216-222.

    Google Scholar 

  87. Reiss, I. L. (1986). Journey into sexuality: An exploratory voyage. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  88. Rosenthal, R. (1994). Parametric measures of effect size. In H. Cooper & L. V. Hedges (Eds.), The handbook of research synthesis (pp. 231-244). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  89. Sanday, P. R. (1981). The socio-cultural context of rape: A cross-cultural study. Journal of Social Issues, 37, 5-27.

    Google Scholar 

  90. Schwartz, M., & DeKeseredy, W. S. (1997). Sexual assault on the college campus: The role of male peer support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  91. Scott, R. L., & Tetreault, L. A. (1987). Attitudes of rapists and other offenders toward women. Journal of Social Psychology, 127, 375-380.

    Google Scholar 

  92. Shadish, W. R., & Haddock, C. K. (1994). Combining estimates of effect size. In H. Copper & L. V. Hedges (Eds.), The handbook of research synthesis (pp. 261-281). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  93. Sheffield, C. J. (1987). Sexual terrorism: The social control of women. In B. B. Hess & M. M. Ferree (Eds.), Analyzing gender: A handbook of social science research (pp 171-189). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  94. *Smeaton, G., & Byrne, D. (1987). The effects of R-rated violence and erotica, individual differences, and victim characteristics on acquaintance rape proclivity. Journal of Research in Personality, 21, 171-184.

    Google Scholar 

  95. Spence, J. T., & Hahn, E. D. (1997). The attitude toward women scale and attitude change in college students. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 17-34.

    Google Scholar 

  96. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R., & Stapp, J. (1975). A short version of the Attitudes Towards Women Scale (AWS). Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 2, 219-220.

    Google Scholar 

  97. *Spence, J. T., Losoff, M., & Robbins, A. S. (1991). Sexually aggressive tactics in dating relationships: Personality and attitudinal correlates. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 10, 289-304.

    Google Scholar 

  98. Sugarman, D. B., & Frankel, S. L. (1996). Patriarchal ideology and wife assault: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Family Violence, 11, 13-40.

    Google Scholar 

  99. Thompson, E. H., & Pleck, J. H. (1986). The structure of male role norms. American Behavioral Scientist, 29, 531-543.

    Google Scholar 

  100. Thornhill, R., & Palmer, C. T. (2000). A natural history of rape: Biological bases of sexual coercion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  101. *Truman, D. M., Tokar, D. M., & Fischer, A. R. (1996). Dimensions of masculinity: Relations to date rape supportive attitudes and sexual aggression in dating situations. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 555-562.

    Google Scholar 

  102. *Walker, W. D., Rowe, R. C., & Quinsey, V. L. (1993). Authoritarianism and sexual aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1036-1045.

    Google Scholar 

  103. Warshaw, R., & Parrot, A. (1991). The contribution of sex-role socialization to acquaintance rape. In A. Parrot & L. Bechofer (Eds.), Acquaintance rape: The hidden crime (pp. 73-82). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Murnen, S.K., Wright, C. & Kaluzny, G. If “Boys Will Be Boys,” Then Girls Will Be Victims? A Meta-Analytic Review of the Research That Relates Masculine Ideology to Sexual Aggression. Sex Roles 46, 359–375 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020488928736

Download citation

  • masculinity
  • sexual aggression
  • rape