Mismatching of gender role attitudes and role status on health

Kristin D. Mickelson, Meggan Donahue, Susanne Biehle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Much has been written in the popular and academic literature about gender role attitudes; however, few systematic studies exist that examine the concordance between gender role attitudes and role status and its impact on health. Existing research is primarily sociological in nature and has focused on descriptive analyses of the relation between sociodemographic variables and gender role attitudes. In other words, these studies tend to examine whether those with a higher education, a higher income, or who are employed are more likely to be egalitarian as opposed to traditional (Thornton, Alwin, & Cambrun, 1983). Research has also found that parental and marital status are more closely linked to traditional than egalitarian attitudes (Fan & Marini, 2000). Finally, age appears to moderate these relationships, such that gender attitudes among older cohorts tend to be more strongly related to social context variables than among younger cohorts (Powers et al., 2003). A natural follow-up question to these descriptive results is about the impact of not "matching" on gender role attitudes and role status. If an individual is traditional but not married or not a parent does this apparent discordance have a negative consequence on their mental and physical health? Gender will obviously play a large role in this question. For instance, there may be less of an impact on health for a woman who is egalitarian but not employed than for a traditional man who is unemployed because of the stricter social norms that men be the breadwinners for their families. Knowledge of a disconnect between one's attitudes and behaviors should deteriorate an individual's mood, and, as a consequence, lead to worse mental and physical health outcomes. To examine these questions, we conducted secondary data analyses using the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) survey, a large nationally representative general population survey of adults aged 25 to 74 years (Kessler, Mickelson, & Zhao 1997; Keyes & Ryff 1998; Lachman & Weaver 1998). Analyses found that, as predicted, discordance of gender role attitudes and social roles - particularly in terms of traditional attitudes - were related to poorer mental and physical health outcomes. In addition, we found some age cohort effects of discordance and health, such that older cohorts appear to be generally more impacted by discordance than younger cohorts. This chapter discusses in detail the findings and implications of these analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Gender Roles
Subtitle of host publicationConflicts, Attitudes and Behaviors
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781606926376
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mismatching of gender role attitudes and role status on health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this