“Not that there’s anything wrong with that…”: Perceptions of Masculine Men and Feminine Men as a Breadwinner or Caregiver
Role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002) posits that individuals are perceived more favorably when they exhibit gender congruent characteristics and roles, but most research has not investigated how participant characteristics affect these perceptions. This research project examined how characteristics of the perceiver (i.e., gender ideology) might influence perceptions of men who adhere to or violate traditional male interests and roles. Specifically, these two studies examined how men of varying perceived levels of masculinity and femininity were perceived in either the breadwinner or caregiver role. Participants read a scenario depicting a man choosing to either remain in the breadwinner role or become the primary caregiver following the birth of his child. The man’s perceived levels of masculinity and femininity were manipulated by describing his interest in either sports (e.g., masculine interest) or literature (e.g., feminine interest). Study 1 showed that men with a masculine interest were personally approved more than men with a feminine interest by only the male participants. Both the male and female participants perceived that society would approve of the breadwinner dad more than the caregiver dad, especially for the masculine target. In Study 2, the man with a masculine interest was personally approved more and perceived as receiving more approval from society than the man with a feminine interest. Non-traditional women increased their approval for a man with a feminine interest when he was the breadwinner. Interestingly, across both Studies 1 and 2, the female participants reported more romantic interest in a target male with a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics and roles. These findings provide evidence that men may continue to adhere to traditional masculine interests and roles as a means to receive approval from others and society. However, the romantic interest findings provide evidence that men may need to develop a combination of masculine and feminine qualities to receive romantic interest from women.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:masculinity sex roles role attitudes congruity theory
Date of Publication:01/01/2008