Relationships among androgyny, self-esteem, and trait coping style of Chinese university students.
Rossi (1964) was the first researcher to suggest that androgyny, meaning an individual having the personality traits traditionally viewed as masculine or feminine, was an appropriate gender role model (cited in Ashmore, 1990). In 1974, according to the personality conception of androgyny and based on social desirability, Bem developed the Sex Role Inventory. Bem reported that the masculine and the dual personality individual have more significant independence than the feminine do, their gender performances are looked on by others as appropriate to the situation, and the androgynous and the masculine have greater self-esteem than do those who are undifferentiated. In the empirical studies conducted to explore the dual personality the focus has been principally on psychological health, bisexual relationships, and the relationship between these two aspects of personality (Li, 1998; Lu & Su, 2004; Xu & Yang, 2010). Shimonaka, Nakazato, Kawaii, and Sato (1997) found that in a Japanese sample those who were androgynous showed adaptive capacity, and that the most effective predictors of gender role adaptation difference were the variables of gender, age, self-esteem, and subjective well-being.
In China, Ma and Wang (2001) showed that androgynous temperament and regional cultural concept are formed by environmental impact, that gender personality traits have sex, grade, and professional facets, and that androgynous personality traits are significantly related to level of mental health.
In recent years, the international community of scholars in the field of education have advocated that children should not receive sex education, and that gender stereotypes in education should be eliminated on the grounds that gender stereotyping would only limit the development of children's intelligence, and full, healthy development of personality. For both male and female, androgyny is considered to represent a healthy mental model (Fang, 1996). Androgynous individuals have a high level of plasticity in training and employment, and of adaptation to environment.
Although it has been demonstrated in previous studies that the androgynous individual has more positive personality traits than those who are not androgynous, the relationship between gender roles and self-esteem has not yet been investigated fully, especially among university students. Further, if androgyny is an ideal gender role, does the androgynous individual deal with problems more actively? In this research our aim was to explore the ideal personality model of Chinese university students from the viewpoint of androgyny, and to examine the relationship among androgyny, self-esteem, and coping style. We assumed that university students with an androgynous personality would have greater self-esteem, and would tend to use positive coping strategies. The results in our study might provide some information that would be useful in the education of university students.
Participants were students from five colleges and universities in the South China region aged between 17 and 24 years. Forms were distributed in classes and via our mail network and 432 usable surveys were returned, of which 223 (51.6%) were completed by males and 209 (48.4%) by females. There were 122 (28.2%) freshmen, 86 (19.9%) sophomores, 122 (28.2%) juniors, and 102 (23.6%) seniors; of these, 216 students lived in towns (towns and counties) and 216 in rural areas, each accounting for 50%. There were 162 liberal arts (37.5%) and 270 science and engineering (62.5%) students.
We used the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI; Bem, 1974), which contains both a masculinity and a femininity scale. When completing the BSRI, participants were asked to rank on a 7-point scale (1 = never true, 7 = always true) how well each of these masculine and feminine personality characteristics describes them. In this study, the internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) of the BSRI was .883, the internal consistency coefficient of the masculinity scale was .857, and the internal consistency coefficient of the femininity scale was .831.
The Self-esteem Scale designed by Rosenberg (1965) has been widely used not only as a one-dimensional scale to assess self-esteem, but also as a criterion in other tests. It is composed of 10 items that are ranked on a scale ranging from 1 to 4. In recent years, researchers have suggested that differences between Chinese and Western cultures should be taken into consideration (Tian, 2006). In this study we analyzed the reliability of the scale, showing that this proposal is reasonable; when Item 8 was scored in a backward direction, the internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) was .828, while a forward direction scoring gave an internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) of .867. In our statistical analysis, a forward direction scoring was used.
The Trait Coping Style Questionnaire was designed by Jiang, Huang, and Lu (1995). It is used to examine positive coping (PC) and negative coping (NC) styles, each with 10 items ranked on a 5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 = absolutely no to 5 = absolutely yes; the higher the one-dimensional score on the scale, the more an individual tends to adopt, using either positive or negative coping. In this study, the internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) of this measure was .633, the internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) of the PCSQ was .717, and the internal consistency coefficient ([alpha]) of the NCSQ was .718.
Data were entered into SPSS version 11.5 for Windows for processing and analysis. Statistical methods used were correlation analysis and chi-square test.
Distribution of Personality Type
A median split method was used to allocate respondents to 1 of 4 gender-role orientation categories: A person with high M and high F was classified as androgynous, high M and low F was classified as masculine, low M and high F was feminine, low M and low F was undifferentiated. The largest group of participants had an androgynous gender role orientation, and [chi square] test results show that there were differences in the overall distribution of androgyny (see Table 1).
Demographic Distribution of Personality Type
As shown in Table 2, there was a significant difference in distribution of androgyny according to gender and marginally significant differences according to year of study.
Correlation Analysis of Gender Role, Self-esteem, and Coping Style
Valid questionnaires were paired in accordance with self-esteem level, gender role, and coping style, then the chi-square test was used to calculate differences.
As shown in Table 3, gender role and self-esteem level had a close relationship; when gender role orientation was androgynous, self-esteem level was higher. As shown in Table 4, gender role and trait coping style were closely related; when gender role orientation was androgynous or masculine, then a more positive coping style was used.
As shown in Table 5, there was a close relationship between self-esteem level and trait coping styles; the higher the self-esteem level, the more positive the coping style used.
Classified in accordance with the four types of gender roles (androgynous, masculine, feminine, undifferentiated), participants' level of self-esteem and trait coping style were paired for analysis and checked using chi-square test.
From the frequency distribution of self-esteem level and trait coping styles of the androgynous group, those participants who had scored at a mid or high level for self-esteem preferred to use a positive coping style, whereas those who scored at a low level for self-esteem used a negative coping style. As the chi-square test shows, androgynous correlation frequency in self-esteem level and trait coping styles was tested by linear-by-linear association, a two-tailed test significant at p < .005. Hence, the self-esteem level and trait coping style of the androgynous participants were closely related; the higher the self-esteem level, the more positive the coping styles used (see Table 6).
From the masculine frequency distribution of self-esteem level and trait coping style of the masculine group, those who scored at mid or high level for self-esteem tended to use a positive coping style, whereas those who scored at a low level for self-esteem used negative coping styles. As shown in Table 7, correlation frequency for the masculine group in self-esteem level and trait coping style was tested by linear-by-linear association, a two-tailed test significant at p < .01. Therefore, there was a close relationship between masculine participants' self-esteem level and trait coping style; the higher the self-esteem level, the more positive the coping style used.
From the frequency distribution of self-esteem level and trait coping style of the feminine group, those participants who scored at a low level for self-esteem used a negative coping style and those whose score for self-esteem was at the mid level preferred to use positive coping styles. However, those who had a high score for self-esteem used both negative and positive coping styles. As shown in Table 8, a correlation frequency in feminine self-esteem level and coping style could not have linear-by-linear association, a two-tailed test significant at p > .05. Thus, we did not find a close relationship between feminine self-esteem level and coping style.
From the frequency distribution of self-esteem levels and trait coping styles of the undifferentiated group, regardless of score for self-esteem, most of the undifferentiated participants tended to employ negative coping styles (see Table 9).
As society has changed, individuals with all-round development are preferred and the socially favored masculine and feminine traits have become the characteristics that both men and women seek to obtain. In this social environment, the distribution of androgyny will be much higher than that of the traditional gender roles. Our results are consistent with those of Cai, Huang, and Song (2008), who used the same measuring tool as we did and also conducted their study with university students. They found that the number of androgynous and undifferentiated students was much higher (33.0% and 32.1%, respectively), than the number of masculine or feminine students (17.5% and 17.4%, respectively). These proportions for the distribution of gender roles are similar to the figures we recorded in our study. For the androgynous and the undifferentiated groups the figure was about 30%, for masculine and feminine, about 15%).
Comparing the demographic distribution of the four gender role types, each was cross-age, cross-urban, cross-rural areas, and cross-grade. In the distribution of masculine and feminine gender role type, male and female participants had significant differences. "Male masculine" was much more frequent than "male feminine". "Female feminine" was much more frequent than "female masculine". Male and female participants in the androgynous and undifferentiated groups were relatively evenly distributed. These results indicated that the traditional concepts of gender roles still have some effect on development of these roles. There was a marginally significant difference in the grade distribution for the four types of gender role. There was no significant difference for any of the types of gender role according to family source. In modern cities, economic and cultural development are faster than in rural areas, and have impacts on the concept of traditional gender roles. In many industries, the differences between roles of men and women have become increasingly blurred, as more and more women enter previously male-dominated industries, such as engineering, and men have begun to work in traditionally female professional areas, such as kindergarten teaching and nursing; in the family, the traditional model in which the man goes out to work while the woman looks after the house has gradually been altered. There was no significant difference for any of the gender role types in the distribution of course of study, which may be related to traditional education, professional characteristics, enrollment requirements, and professional requirements.
We found that the androgynous group had the highest level of self-esteem and tendency towards positive coping compared to the three other types of gender roles. Students in the undifferentiated group scored significantly higher than those in the other three other gender role groups for negative coping style. For level of self-esteem the group scores from highest to lowest were androgynous, masculine, feminine, and undifferentiated and the ranking of the tendency towards adopting a positive coping style (from high to low) were androgynous, undifferentiated, masculine, and feminine. Cai et al. (2008) found that androgynous individuals had the highest subjective well-being, more self-confidence, and it has also been found that androgynous individuals have a greater sense of security (Wang, 2004), better mental health, and better social adaptation (Lu & Yuan, 2002; Song, 2006). Our results are consistent with the results of these prior studies. According to Bem et al. (1976), androgynous individuals can cope easily in all situations. In the appropriate context for masculinity, they can behave in a manly way; in the appropriate context for femininity, they can behave with femininity. Our results support this proposition. Androgynous participants in our study had higher self-esteem and tended to use a positive coping style.
In the study, we considered the androgynous personality as an ideal gender role for university, and it has been shown that the university is an important period for the development of gender roles (Fu, Li, & Niu, 2008). Then, what can assist in shaping an undergraduate androgynous gender role? Parents need to be aware of gender role stereotypes. Traits of character such as strength and bravery, gentleness, patience, and meticulousness should not be labeled as either masculine or feminine (Xu et al., 2010). In school, teachers should move from the traditional gender roles to see the merits of androgynous gender role education and to encourage androgynous gender-role development (Li & Zheng, 2002). Teachers should assist the development of students in promoting activities related to the positive qualities of both sexes.
A limitation in this study was that the sample was composed of university students. Samples of high school students and people of other ages should be investigated in future. There are different expectations of gender roles in different cultures (see e.g., Azuma & Ogura, 2001; Ito, 2001; Nishimura, 2004). Therefore, it would be worthwhile to conduct cross-cultural comparisons of gender roles, especially related to androgyny.
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XISHAN HUANG, XIAO-LU ZHU, JUAN ZHENG, AND LIN ZHANG
South China Normal University
Xishan Huang, Xiao-lu Zhu, Juan Zheng, and Lin Zhang, Center for Psychological Application, Department of Psychology, South China Normal University; Kunio Shiomi, Department of Human Development, Soai University. Kunio Shiomi is now at Hokusho University.
This research was supported by grants from Guangdong Provincial Emergency Mental Health Aid and Emergency Technology Research Center, Mental Health and Cognitive Sciences Key Laboratory of Guangdong Province, Guangdong Province Philosophy Social Sciences eleven five planning project, and Chinese universities humanities and social sciences research planning project.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Xishan Huang, Department of Psychology, Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, People's Republic of China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table 1. The Overall Distribution of Androgyny Type Total (N = 432) Androgynous Masculine Feminine Number 152 66 63 % 35.2 15.3 14.6 Total (N = 432) Undifferentiated [chi square] p Number 151 70.13 .000 *** % 35.0 Note: *** p < .001. Table 2. Demographic Distribution of Gender Role Type According to Gender Role Orientation Categories Androgynous Masculine Feminine (n = 152) (n = 66) (n = 63) Gender Male 85 38 17 Female 67 28 46 Year of study Freshman 41 25 23 Sophomore 33 13 9 Junior 41 16 11 Senior 37 12 20 Family source Rural 81 36 28 Town 71 30 35 Major Liberal arts 57 66 20 Science and 95 85 46 engineering Undifferentiated [chi square] p (n = 151) Gender Male 83 18.051 .000 Female 68 Year of study Freshman 33 16.141 .064 Sophomore 31 Junior 54 Senior 33 Family source Rural 71 12.518 .472 Town 80 Major Liberal arts 19 5.391 .145 Science and 44 engineering Table 3. Chi-square Test of Gender Role: Self-esteem Level Grouping Frequency Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 59.024 6 .000 Likelihood ratio 63.900 6 .000 Linear-by-linear association 13.428 1 .000 N 432 Table 4. Chi-square Test of Gender Role: Trait Coping Style Grouping Frequency Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 25.229 3 .000 Likelihood ratio 25.489 3 .000 Linear-by-linear association 6.166 1 .013 N 432 Table 5. Chi-square Test of Self-esteem Level: Coping Style Grouping Frequency Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 42.084 2 .000 Likelihood ratio 45.899 2 .000 Linear-by-linear association 35.581 1 .000 N 432 Table 6. Chi-square Test of Self-esteem Level: Trait Coping Style Frequency Distribution for Androgynous Participants Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 8.457 2 .015 Likelihood ratio 8.788 2 .012 Linear-by-linear association 4.649 1 .031 N 152 Table 7. Chi-square Test of Self-esteem Level: Trait Coping Styles Frequency Distribution for Masculine Participants Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 9.798 2 0.007 Likelihood ratio 10.363 2 0.006 Linear-by-linear association 8.366 1 0.004 n 66 Table 8. Chi-square Test of Self-esteem Level: Trait Coping Styles Frequency Distribution for Feminine Participants Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 1.686 2 .001 Likelihood ratio 1.736 2 .000 Linear-by-linear association 1.645 1 .200 n 63 Table 9. Chi-square Test of Self-esteem Levels: Trait Coping Styles Frequency Distribution for Undifferentiated Participants Value df Asymptotic significance (two-sided) Pearson chi-square 14.329 2 .001 Likelihood Ratio 15.739 2 .000 Linear-by-linear association 8.018 1 .005 n 151
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|Author:||Huang, Xishan; Zhu, Xiao-lu; Zheng, Juan; Zhang, Lin; Shiomi, Kunio|
|Publication:||Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2012|
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