Gender Role Identity, Gender Role Conflict, Conformity to Role Norms and Men’s Attitudes Toward Psychological Help-Seeking
Schwartz Moravec, N. Margaret 1985-
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Men typically seek less help than women in a variety of domains, including health concerns and psychological distress (see Courtenay, 2000, for a review). In order to understand this disparity, men’s attitudes toward seeking psychological help have been examined in relation to men’s gender role constructs. Men’s conformity to traditional masculine gender role norms has been negatively associated with attitudes toward seeking psychological help (Good, Dell, & Mintz, 1989; Good et al., 2006). Men’s gender role conflict, or the negative intrapersonal conflict that results when men rigidly adhere to traditional gender roles, has also been negatively associated with help-seeking attitudes (see O’Neil, 2005, for a review). However, the relation of men’s gender role identity to gender role ideology and help-seeking attitudes has been largely ignored. The present study examined the relation of two dimensions of gender role identity: gender role exploration and gender role commitment (Marcia, 1966), to men’s gender role conflict and psychological help-seeking attitudes. Participants were 191 male college students, ranging in age from 18 to 58 years (M=24; SD=6.26). The sample was ethnically diverse, with 43.5% Caucasian/White participants, 20.4% Latino/Hispanic participants, 22% Asian American/Asian/Pacific Islander participants, 8.9% Black/African American participants, and 5.2% who identified as multiracial or “other.” Most participants had never engaged in psychological treatment, per self-report (78%). Measures included a demographic questionnaire, the Gender Role Conflict Scale (O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986), which assessed gender role conflict four domains (i.e., success, power and competition, restrictive emotionality, restrictive affectionate behavior between men, and conflict between work and family), the Gender Role Exploration and Commitment Scale (Schwartz et al., 2012), which assessed gender role identity, the Inventory of Attitudes toward Seeking Mental Health Services (Mackenzie, Knox, Gekoski, & Macaulay, 2004), which measured attitudes toward psychological help-seeking, and Conformity to Masculine Norms-46 (Parent & Moradi, 2009), which measured conformity to traditional role norms. The present study examined four research questions: (1) To what extent are gender role exploration and commitment scores related to levels of gender role conflict domains, when controlling for conformity to masculine role norms? (2) To what extent do gender role exploration and commitment moderate the relation between conformity to masculine role norms and gender role conflict domains? (3) What is the combined and unique contribution of gender role exploration, gender role commitment and four gender role conflict domains to attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, when controlling for conformity to masculine role norms? (4) To what extent do gender role commitment and exploration moderate the relationship between the four gender role conflict domains and attitudes toward psychological help-seeking? Results suggest that, after controlling for men’s conformity to masculine role norms, gender role commitment was predictive of men’s gender role conflict in the areas of success, power, and competition and conflict between work and family, and was a protective factor for restrictive emotionality. Gender role exploration was not a significant predictor of gender role conflict, and neither gender role exploration nor commitment significantly moderated the relation of conformity to male role norms and gender role conflict. Results also indicated that conformity to masculine role norms was a better predictor of men’s negative attitudes about therapy than gender role conflict, gender role exploration, or gender role commitment. When controlling for previous therapy experience and conformity to masculine role norms, neither gender role conflict, gender role exploration nor gender role commitment were significant predictors of men’s help-seeking attitudes. Results also indicated that there was a weak interaction effect between gender role commitment and gender role conflict, when predicting men’s attitudes toward help-seeking.
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