Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

How Is Gender Self-Confidence Related to Subjective Well-Being?

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

How Is Gender Self-Confidence Related to Subjective Well-Being?

Article excerpt

This study of ethnically diverse participants explored the relationship of gender self-confidence to subjective well-being. The 2 components of gender self-confidence (gender self-definition and gender self-acceptance) were assessed using the Hoffman Gender Scale (R. M. Hoffman, 1996; R. M. Hoffman, L. D. Borders, & J. A. Hattie, 2000). The hypothesized relationship between gender self-acceptance and subjective well-being, measured by the Short Happiness and Affect Research Protocol (M. J. Stones et al., 1996) was supported most notably among African American men.


It has been said that the study of psychology and counseling is slowly evolving from a focus on remediating deficits to one that emphasizes strengths (Bandura, 1986; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Certainly, icons of humanistic psychology, such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, stressed the importance of facilitating clients' inherent tendencies toward growth and the emergence of personal potential. In recent years, the positive psychology movement (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), with its emphasis on human strengths, resilience, and happiness, has garnered much attention, both generally and in scholarly circles. Positive psychology clearly has its roots in humanistic psychology, although its founders appear to downplay that important connection (Das, 2000).

A central concept of the humanistic and positive psychology literature is subjective well-being (SWB; Diener, 1984, 1994, 1996, 2000; Diener & Suh, 1998; Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998). The purpose of the study described in this article was to investigate the relationship between gender self-confidence (Hoffman, 1996; Hoffman, 2006; Hoffman, Borders, & Hattie, 2000) and SWB. Each of these constructs is described in the sections that follow.


For 3 decades, Edward Diener (2000) has studied a construct known as SWB. SWB has been defined as "people's cognitive and affective evaluations of their lives" (Diener, 2000, p. 34). Diener's work was featured in a special issue of the American Psychologist on positive psychology, guest edited by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000). They noted that "subjective wellbeing is a more scientific sounding term for what people usually mean by happiness" (p. 9), although the terms are used interchangeably in the literature. Research on SWB focuses on how and why individuals experience their lives in positive ways. In studying SWB, much importance is placed on what people think and feel about their own lives. By no means, however, has Diener suggested that SWB alone ensures mental health. What he has contended is that people's own assessments of their lives must be honored. Not to do so, particularly in democratic societies based on respect for the opinions of individuals, would be incongruous.

A strength of many of the studies on SWB conducted by Diener and his associates is a cross-cultural emphasis. The sample in a study conducted by Suh et al. (1998) consisted of 7,204 respondents in 42 countries. Only 6% of the total number of respondents rated money as more important than happiness, and, on a scale of I to 7 (1 = of no importance, 7 = extraordinarily important and valuable), 69% rated happiness as a 7.

SWB has been studied extensively in relationship to various life events and personality traits (Headey & Wearing, 1989). SWB is generally consistent across ages and age of respondent (Diener & Suh, 1998; Herzog & Rodgers, 1981; Horley & Lavery, 1995). Differences in SWB between men and women are small or nonexistent (Inglehart, 1990; Michalos, 1991); however, a literature search revealed no studies that explored the relationship of aspects of an individual's perception of self as a woman or a man to SWB.


My colleagues and I (Hoffman, 1996; Hoffman et al. …

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