Assessing the Current Validity of the Bem
Sex-Role In ventory
Ch eryl L. Holt
Saint Lo uis University
Jon . B. Ellis
East Tenn essee State University
The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) is a widely used instrument in measuring
gender role perception s. Recent concerns regardin g the validity of the adjectives
have arisen as changes in the roles of men an d wom en have occu rred in
Am erican society since the 1970
s. A partial replication of the m ethod that
Bem (1974) used to validate the masculine an d feminin e adjectives com prising
the instrum ent was con ducted. All bu t two of the adjectives were validated
s criteria. These findin gs suggest that the BSRI may still be a valid
instrument for assessin g gen der roles. However, evidence was revealed that
tradition al mascu line an d femin ine gender role perception s may be weaken ing.
Future validation of the BSRI is warran ted in light of these patterns.
In the field of psychology, much research is conducte d involving individuals
perceptions of gende r role s, and behavioral as we ll as attitudinal correlate s.
Gende r role s may be defined as
expe ctations about what is appropriate
behavior for each se x
(Weiten, 1997, p. 325) . One can also add to this
definition the expe ctations which are he ld about appropriate pe rsonality
characteristics for each sex. In 1974, Bem de velope d the Bem Se x-Role
Inve ntory (BSRI), an instrume nt used to measure gende r role pe rceptions.
The BSRI is a wide ly use d instrume nt in psychology and othe r fie lds be-
cause it measure s masculine and feminine gender roles se parate ly, is able
to yie ld a measure of androgyny, and has adequate psychome tric prope rtie s.
Sex Roles, Vol. 39, Nos. 11/12, 1998
1998 Plenum Publishing Corporation
To wh om corre spondence sh ould be addre sse d at St. Louis Universi ty, De partme nt of
Psychology, Shannon Hall, Room 201, 221 N. Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103; e-mail:
plagecl@ slu.e du