Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Beliefs about the Success of Dual-Earner Relationships: Toward the Development of a Normative Beliefs Measurement Scale

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Beliefs about the Success of Dual-Earner Relationships: Toward the Development of a Normative Beliefs Measurement Scale

Article excerpt

Research on dual-career men and women has revealed inconsistent findings regarding gender differences in work and family experiences and outcomes. Gender has often been cited as an explanation for these disparate findings (Byron, 2005; Gutek, Searle & Klepa, 1991). However, increasingly, researchers are acknowledging that examining the impact of gender in the work-family research area may not be sufficient. For example, Livingston and Judge (2008) believe that gender role orientation may be ... a better lens through which to examine work-family conflict" (p. 207). Others recognize that gender is about both sex and about gender role socialization (Ely & Padavic, 2007). Thus, it is important to examine gender role socialization, as evidence suggests that while gender may be related to gender role socialization, the two are not identical (Ely & Padavic, 2007; Livingston & Judge, 2008).

Gender role socialization is reflected in attitudes and normative beliefs that have important implications for work-family research. Individuals subscribing to traditional gender roles hold the normative belief that men should be the breadwinners for the family, with women taking on the roles of caretakers and nurturers (Archer & Lloyd, 2002; Cinamon & Rich, 2002; Eagly, 1983). On the other hand, individuals accepting less traditional beliefs about dual-career relationships expect that women and men should associate with, and contribute to, their work and family roles equally (Hochschild, 1989; Livingston & Judge, 2008).

Despite the prevalence of dual-career couples in the US workforce, women continue to report working more hours in an average week than men, primarily due to women's responsibilities for housework and childcare (Hochschild, 1989; Sayer, England, Bittman, & Bianchi, 2004). Livingston and Judge (2008) attribute this fact to relatively unchanging traditional gender role socialization. They state that both men and women may be slow in responding to altering role demands due to their perception of what is expected of them in their traditional gender roles. This may explain why men have been hypothesized to experience more work-to-family conflict and women more family-to-work conflict because work and family role identities are central to men and women, respectively (Ford, Heinen, & Langmaker, 2007).

The above discussion underscores the important role that gender role socialization may play in the work-family interface (Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 2002; Hochschild, 1989; Litzky, Becker, & Parasuraman, 1998; Livingston & Judge, 2008). However, we know relatively little about how this socialization may influence individuals' beliefs in the dual-career situation. Specifically, how does gender-role socialization influence an individual's perception of the behaviors appropriate in the context of creating a successful dual-career relationship? To this end, we developed an instrument to assess individuals' normative beliefs about dual-career relationships. This study focused on two objectives - the first involved the development and validation of an instrument designed to assess individuals' beliefs about the behaviors necessary to create successful dual-career relationships. The second included an exploration of the dimensionality of this construct--are individuals' normative beliefs single- or multi-faceted constructs? We conducted two studies sampling individuals from two different age brackets in an effort to establish preliminary reliability of this instrument.

Research on work-family domain variables has indicated that men and women differ in the way they respond to, and are influenced by, work and family demands. A number of studies have shown minimal differences in the job characteristics (Crossfield, Kinman, & Jones, 2005), motivation (Rojewski & Yang, 1997), work values (Cooper, Arkkelin, & Tiebert, 1994; Rowe & Snizek, 1995), and job and life satisfaction (Crossfield et al. …

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