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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Psychological androgyny, sex stereotyping, and mental health Lazerson, Judith

Abstract

The first purpose of the present study was to investigate the distribution of psychological androgyny and sex stereotyping in a group of non-psychotic psychiatric outpatients. The second purpose was to explore the differences between androgynous male and female patients and sex typed male and female patients on a variety of mental health variables including self-esteem, severity and pattern of psychopathology, social adjustment, and interpersonal flexibility. Procedure The 103 patients were seeking admission to an outpatient psychotherapy program at a university hospital. To measure psychological androgyny the nurturance (LM) scales and the dominance scales (PA) from the Interpersonal Adjective Scales (IAS) (Wiggins, 1980) were used and initally scored according to the t-ratio method (Bern, 1974). Given the nature of the obtained distribution, a recategorization based on a modification of the original t-ratio method was used to form the groups examined in subsequent analyses. The androgynous and sex typed patient groups were compared for significant differences on the four mental health variables. Self-esteem was measured and analyzed two ways. First, the patients' scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale were analyzed in a 3 x 2 analysis of variance. Second, the discrepancy between real and ideal self was determined by patients rating the IAS twice. Contingency tables, real by ideal, were constructed to show the direction and amount of shift from real to ideal sex type category. The severity and pattern of psychopathology were measured by the MMPI clinical scales and the MMPI content scales (Wiggins, 1966). To determine the clinical group differences on the MMPI clinical scales, the mean score for each scale was plotted on a MMPI profile for each sex typed group. The 13 MMPI content scales were separately analyzed in thirteen 3x2 analyses of variance. Social adjustment, as measured by the Vancouver Problem Goal List, was analyzed for sex type group differences in fifteen 3x2 analyses of variance. To determine interpersonal flexibility, the profile variability of the sex type groups' scores on the IAS was analyzed using the F-ratio and following Wiggins and Holzmuller (1979). Results In the distribution of androgyny and sex type groups, very few patients were androgynous., The greatest proportion of patients for both sexes was feminine or hyper feminine in sex type (90 of 103). In the exploration of sex type group differences on measures of mental health, androgynous patients had significantly higher self-esteem on the RSE and they had less discrepancy between their real and ideal self scores than the extreme sex typed hyper feminine group. The androgynous patients' MMPI profiles indicated less psychopathology and a different pattern of psychopathology as compared to the other sex type groups. On three of the 13 content scales, androgynous patients had significantly less pathology than the extreme sex typed group. There were no group differences on the social adjustment measure. The androgynous males showed significantly greater interpersonal flexibility than the other male groups as measured on the IAS. It was concluded that in this sample the androgynous patients, or those with a balance of dominance and nurturance, tended to have better mental health than stereotyped feminine or hyper feminine patients. It seemed to be the lack of dominance or assertiveness rather than nurturance which predicted the severity of mental illness in the patient group.

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