Evaluation of the Psychometric Properties of the Male Role Norms Inventory-Adolescent (MRNI-A)

By Levant, Ronald F.; Graef, Stephen T. et al. | Thymos, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Evaluation of the Psychometric Properties of the Male Role Norms Inventory-Adolescent (MRNI-A)


Levant, Ronald F., Graef, Stephen T., Smalley, K. Bryant, Williams, Christine, McMillan, Neil, Thymos


Data were collected on samples of American (N = 172) and Scottish (N = 264) adolescents to evaluate the scale reliability and construct validity of an adolescent version of Levant et al.'s (1992) Male Role Norms Inventory. Results indicate that the MRNI-A showed good overall internal consistency for the scale as a whole in both samples; results for the subscales were less robust. Convergent and discriminant validity were assessed with the U.S. sample. Results indicated adequate convergent validity for the MRNI-A for both boys and girls, and adequate discriminant validity for girls. Results for the discriminant validity of the MRNI-A for boys were not as conclusive. Consistent with research on adults, females in both samples endorsed less traditional views of masculinity than did males. Scottish adolescents endorsed less traditional views of masculinity than did Americans.

Keywords: masculinity ideology, male role norms, adolescents, scale validation, cross sex and cross cultural comparisons

Within the study of sex and gender, the acquisition of and adherence to masculine and feminine gender roles has been a topic of vigorous debate. Historically, the acquisition of gender roles had been viewed theoretically as an invariant process leading to the development of clusters of sex-typed personality traits that reside in individuals. Such a perspective characterized the essentialist Gender Role Identity Paradigm (Bohan, 1997; Pleck 1981,1995). The Gender Role Identity Paradigm further assumed that individuals have an inner psychological need to identify with their gender role, and that success in meeting this inner need was dependent upon the extent to which a person embraced his or her respective traditional gender role, and exhibited the sex-tyed personality traits (Levant, 1996a). This approach to gender dominated the research community's understanding of masculinity until Joseph Pleck (1981) conceptualized a new approach to understanding men and the masculine gender role known as the Gender Role Strain Paradigm.

The Gender Role Strain Paradigm (Pleck, 1981, 1995) proposed a competing framework in which the acquisition of gender roles is viewed as a variable, not invariant, process, informed by the prevailing gender ideologies, which themselves can vary according to the social context. The prevailing ideologies define the social norms for male and female gender roles. Pleck thus introduced a normative perspective on gender, in contrast to the older personality trait approach. The ideologies and norms serve to uphold gender-based power structures (Kimmel, 2000). For the most part, gender-based power structures in the U.S. are patriarchal, mitigated to varying degrees in different subcultures by the influence of feminism and the gay rights movement. These gender ideologies influence how parents, teachers, and peers socialize children, and how adults think, feel, and behave in regard to gender-salient matters (Levant, 1996a; Pleck, Sonenstein, & Ku, 1994a).

Gender ideology is thus the central construct in the Gender Role Strain Paradigm; it defines the gender role norms for men and women. Masculinity ideology refers to culturally defined standards for men's gendered behavior, as well as internalized beliefs about the importance for men to adhere to these defined standards (Pleck, 1981,1995). Through social processes, masculinity ideology informs and encourages men to conform to the prevailing male role norms by adopting certain socially sanctioned masculine behaviors and avoiding certain proscribed behaviors (Levant, 1996a).

Given that masculinity ideology is defined socially and culturally, it is not suprising that there exists no single standard of masculinity; rather, societies construct their own masculinity ideologies (Levant, 1996a). In fact, male role norms have been found to vary across cultures (Levant & Richmond, 2007). While recognizing the potential diversity in masculinity ideologies, Pleck (1995) noted that a common constellation of standards and expectations with the traditional male role exists in the Western world.

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