Social constructivist models of gender suggest that gendered attitudes and behaviors, such as femininity and masculinity, are context-dependent (Deaux and Major 1987). If this is the case, femininity and masculinity may be better conceptualized as variable states rather than as stable traits. In the present study, we used Ecological Momentary Assessment to investigate variations in femininity and masculinity according to the gender of peers in female and male college students’ real-life social contexts. Cisgender participants were recruited from a small liberal arts college in the northeastern region of the United States. Sixteen female and 11 male college students (M age = 20) contributed 448 reports documenting their social context and femininity and masculinity over a 2-week period. We found that men reported greater femininity on a momentary version of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) when they were with women in comparison to when they were with men. We also found that both women and men reported greater masculinity on a momentary version of the BSRI when they were with men in comparison to when they were with women. Our findings lend empirical support to social constructivist models of gender and highlight the importance of investigating how interpersonal contexts contribute to gender-typed attitudes and behaviors.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 17, 2016
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