The Relationship between Masculinity Ideology, Condom Attitudes, and Condom Use: Stage of Change; A Structural Equation Modeling Approach

Article excerpt

Several theorists have hypothesized that traditional men's gender roles include a prescription for sexually risky behavior (e.g., Amaro, 1995). However, few studies have empirically examined this proposition. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between masculinity ideology, condom attitudes, and condom use stage of change in a sample of 272 heterosexually active undergraduate men. Calculation of nested structural equation models supported a model in which masculinity ideology indirectly affected condom use stage of change by way of condom attitudes. Higher endorsement of masculinity ideology was related to more negative condom attitudes, and more negative condom attitudes were related to decreased readiness to use condoms consistently. These results have important implications for the reduction of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in both heterosexual men and women.

Key Words: masculinity ideology, condom attitudes, condom use stage of change, heterosexuality, college men, AIDS, STDs

Traditional men's gender roles may have a negative affect on many aspects of their lives. For instance, a growing literature documents associations between traditional men's gender roles and hostility (Sinn, 1997), negative attitudes toward male homosexuality (Pleck, Sonenstein, & Ku, 1994; Sinn, 1997), and an expectation to complete less education (Pleck et al., 1994). Research has demonstrated that the traditional male role itself limits men's options regarding how they can behave, and puts stress and strain on men (Levant, 1996; O'Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986). In studies that have implications for the quality of intimate relationships and safer sex, the traditional male role has been found to be related to more sexual partners and sexual activity (Pleck, Sonenstein, & Ku, 1993; Sinn, 1997), a belief that sexual relationships are adversarial (Marin, Gomez, Tschann, & Gregorich, 1997; Pleck et al., 1993; Sinn, 1997), less intimate relationships with sexual partners (Pleck et al., 1993), as well as more negative attitudes toward condom use and less consistent condom use (Pleck et al., 1993).

Heterosexual men's unsafe sexual behavior poses serious risks for HIV infection in both men and women, and yet relatively few studies have examined this risky sexual behavior (Amaro, 1995; Lewis, Malow, & Ireland, 1997). In 1999, 8% of AIDS cases in men and 40% of AIDS cases in women were acquired by heterosexual contact (CDC, 1999). In fact, heterosexual transmission is increasingly becoming a channel through which HIV and AIDS are spread (CDC, 1999). Those interested in curbing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, have only recently focused on the impact that prescribed gender roles have on intimate relationships and sexual behavior (Amaro, 1995; Morokoff, 2000; Quina, Harlow, Morokoff, & Saxon, 1997). Despite much theorizing, few studies have empirically investigated the relationships between conceptualizations of the male (and female) gender role and variables related to safer sex. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between masculinity ideology, condom attitudes, and condom use stage of change in a sample of heterosexual men. The following is a review of the construct masculinity ideology, as well as its relationship to condom attitudes and condom use.


Masculinity ideology (MI) is a conceptualization of the male gender role that has been proposed, validated, and extensively studied in the social-psychological literature (e.g., Pleck et al., 1993; Pleck et al., 1994; Sinn, 1997; Thompson & Pleck, 1986; Thompson, Pleck, & Ferrera, 1992). It is a three-factor conceptualization of the male role that includes status, toughness, and anti-femininity (Thompson & Pleck, 1986; Thompson et al., 1992). This conceptualization grew out of Brannon (1976) and Brannon and Juni's (1984) work on the male role, which posited four dimensions that included avoiding femininity, achieving status, being independent, and being aggressive. …