Scales Designed to Measure Sex Role Identification

Some scales have been designed specifically to measure sex or gender role identification as an aspect of personality. One of the earliest of these was the Mf scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which was created shortly after World War II. The original Mf scale was used to assess homosexuality in men. It was developed by the method of extreme groups (empirical criterion keying; Anastasi & Urbina, 1997, p. 351) for which the MMPI is famous, with male soldiers representing the "extremely male" group and female airline employees the "extremely female" group. Answers that matched those of the soldiers were keyed as "masculine" while answers that matched those of the female group were keyed as "feminine." Many items from the original scale which addressed emotions, relationships, and hobbies remain in the present form of the test (MMPI-2: Hathaway & McKinley, 1989). The extreme group identified in the MMPI-2 manual is "men who sought psychiatric help" in respect of problems with homoeroticism and gender role. The Mf scale is scored inversely for men and women. In either case, a high score is indicative of problems. The implications of elevated scores are discussed in the MMPI-2 manual (Hathaway & McKinley, 1989, p. 38). For men, very high scores (T > 76) are indicative of "conflicts over sexual identity" as well as a "passive and effeminate" character. For women very high scores (T > 70) are indicative of dominance, aggression, and unfriendliness (MMPI-2). A low score for a man (T< 40) predicts a macho, action-oriented, crude, and aggressive character, while a low score for a woman (T< 40) predicts passivity, self-pity, helplessness, and complaining.

A more recently developed inventory focusing on sex roles is the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1981). Bem envisioned Masculine and Feminine sex roles as independent dimensions, with individuals being able to score high on one and low on the other (masculine or feminine sex stereotype), high on neither (undifferenti-ated), or high on both (androgynous). Items on the Bem Sex Role Inventory were not scored ipsatively, or in opposite directions for men and women, so scores were free to vary along both dimensions. Bem ensured that the items were all of high social desirability. Men most often scored higher on the Masculine items and tended to receive masculine stereotyped scores. The converse was true for women. Analyses of the language of Masculine and Feminine items on the inventory revealed that the Masculine keyed items were more emotionally Active while Feminine keyed items were more emotionally Pleasant (Whissell & Chellew, 1994).

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