Date of Award

Spring 2003

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Carolyn Mebert


This project examined some linkages and discrepancies between theories that describe the acquisition of gender typical attributes in childhood with theories that describe the maintenance of those attributes in adulthood. This perspective included the idea that there are several well known ways of enacting masculinity, related to well known stereotypes (e.g., jock, business, sensitive new age guy), and highlighted within sex variability. Because a distinction between biological sex and gender was made, the sample was not restricted to males despite focusing on the masculine. One focus of the project was the consistency with which an individual enacts a particular stereotypical identity across four contexts (at home, at work, with friends, in leisure activities) and through the life course. Acquisition and maintenance theories rooted in the psychodynamic perspective predict contextual consistency whereas socially oriented theories predict contextual variability. Different influences on an individual's gender typed attitudes were examined. Childhood theories position parents and other models as influential and maintenance theories focus on peer influences; both include media as an influence. Surveys were completed by 660 individuals, 50% of whom were female. Results supported both contextual consistency and inconsistency with most individuals demonstrating some level of each. Examination of consistency through the life course yielded similar findings. No factor was clearly related to increased consistency, although contextual consistency did increase slightly with older age for the noncollege subsample. Examination of influences revealed participant's beliefs were more closely related to perceived model's beliefs than to actual familial beliefs. Patterns of relations between individual and model beliefs varied depending on whether the model was a family member or media figure. Stronger preferences for certain media genres (e.g., sports, women's) were related to different attitudes. Implicit within this study was the assumption that male images differ, and this idea was supported through stereotypical descriptors provided and variations between individuals who endorsed different identities. Further, males and females who endorsed the same stereotypical identity possessed some similarities to and differences from each other suggesting that enacted identities are experienced differently across sex.