Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Gender Differences in Predictors of Anticipated Division of Household Labor in Christian Students

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Gender Differences in Predictors of Anticipated Division of Household Labor in Christian Students

Article excerpt

Gender performance theory suggests the division of household labor is determined by threats to individuals' gender identity. This study explores gender identity threat among college students' expected division of household labor and whether sanctification of one's anticipated division of household labor moderates the relationship between gender identity threat and expected division of household labor. A sample of 126 participants was recruited from a Christian liberal arts university, 48 men and 78 women ranging in age from 18 to 36. Analyses indicated that gender identity threat led to a greater emphasis on stereotypically feminine tasks. Secondly, sanctification moderated the relationship between gender identity threat and expected division of household labor for men. Men who endorsed higher levels of sanctification of the division of household labor expected to divide household labor in a more traditional manner when their gender identity was threatened than when it was not threatened; the opposite pattern was true of men with low levels of sanctification. Although sanctification of the division of household labor was not a significant moderator for women, sanctification and gender identity threat together were found to significantly influence expected division of household labor, with greater sanctification related to more traditional anticipated division of labor.

The factors leading to the division of household labor in marriage has been the subject of research for many years. Historically, the division of household labor has been influenced by factors such as the industrial revolution, which moved economic productivity out of the home and resulted in a split between household labor and economic productivity, with women taking on the larger part of household labor. In recent decades, research has documented the existence of gender divisions in the types of household labor performed (Berk & Berk 1979). Blair and Lichter (1991) divided household tasks into gender stereotypical categories based on data from the 1988 National Survey of Families and Households, which asked 3,190 married and cohabiting couples about their time spent on eight household chores. Women were found to spend more time preparing meals, washing dishes and cleaning up after meals, cleaning house, and washing, ironing, and mending clothes. Men were found to spend more time doing outdoor and household maintenance, and auto maintenance and repair. Men and women were found to spend a similar amount of time grocery shopping, and paying the bills. The present study explores how religiously-influenced views on household labor intersect with contemporary gender threat theory in predicting anticipated division of household labor in a sample of Christian undergraduate students.

Past research focused on theories that explain the division of household labor based on external resources like time and money, with inconsistent results. However, more recently Brines (1994) and Greenstein (2000) introduced an alternative explanation for household division of labor: gender performance theory. Gender performance theory argues that the division of household labor is determined by efforts to maintain one's masculinity or femininity. As such, the theory suggests that an individual will perform the household tasks that would secure his or her identity as a man or woman. The gender performance process suggests that couples who stray from their stereotypical gender roles compensate for their role deviation by exaggerating stereotypical behaviors. When couples stray from their stereotypical gender roles their identity as a woman/wife or as a man/husband is threatened. To compensate for the deviation from the stereotype, they adjust their household behaviors to divide the chores in a more stereotypical manner. This theory is consistent with compensatory masculinity theory (Babl 1979), which states that men defensively exaggerate their masculinity when their sex-roles are threatened. …

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