Bem Sex Role Inventory: A theoretical and methodological critique

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Abstract

After a discussion of the rationale and psychometric properties of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and different types of sex role research, the results of 2 experiments are presented. In Study 1, 1,464 graduate students rated the desirability of BSRI traits for 1 of 3 referents: man, woman, or adult in American society. In Study 2, 571 graduate students used the BSRI for self-ratings. Regardless of the referents used, the “masculine” traits were relatively high in desirability, but some of the “feminine” traits were low. Discriminant function analyses indicated that discrimination among groups was primarily due to the differential ratings of the traits Masculine and Feminine for the different referents. Results from factor analyses of the ratings of desirability and the self-ratings indicate that (a) S. L. Bem's classification of BSRI traits into masculine, feminine, and neutral is not tenable; (b) the dimensions that underlie desirability ratings differ from those that underlie self-ratings; and (c) the dimensions of self-ratings of males differ from those of females. Implications for the measurement of androgyny are discussed. A postscript presents the current authors' reply to Bem's (see record 1980–29218–001) response to this article. (62 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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