Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Implications of Sex Role Identity and Psychological Capital for Organisations: A South African Study

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Implications of Sex Role Identity and Psychological Capital for Organisations: A South African Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

A large body of research has been conducted which investigates the relationship between sex role identities (SRIs) of androgyny, masculinity, femininity and a number of critical organisational outcomes. In this regard it has been reported that those who are more androgynous or masculine have significantly more flexible coping styles, and are higher on self-esteem, achievement motivation, subjective feelings of well-being, resilience, improved self-concept, improved work performance and work engagement. Androgyny has also been significantly correlated with greater creativity and emotional intelligence (Cheng, 1999; Flaherty & Dusek, 1980; Guastello & Guastello, 2003; Jacobs, 2014; Jurma & Powell, 1994; Keller, Lavish & Brown, 2007; Lam & McBride-Chang, 2007; Lassk, Kennedy, Powell & Lagace, 1992; May & Spangenberg, 1997). Those that are feminine or androgynous are found to have a greater ability to harness and utilise social support and are more embedded in strong networks of supportive others, both in their personal lives and within the workplace (Bernstein, 2013; Bornstein et al., 2002; Kitamura et al, 2002; Neff & Karney, 2005; Reevy & Maslach, 2001). Within this approach masculinity has typically included traits of assertiveness, decision-making ability, control, competitiveness, ambition, independence, self-sufficiency and goal-orientation (Bem, 1974; Spence, Helmreich & Holohan, 1979). Femininity has included traits of being emotional, tactful, considerate, warm, gentle and caring (Spence, 1993; Spence et al., 1979) while androgyny has been defined as the possession of high levels of both masculinity and femininity (Woodhill & Samuels, 2003, 2004).

A growing body of research has also demonstrated the critical relationship between psychological capital (PsyCap) and crucial organisational outcomes, indicating that PsyCap has a positive effect on important work attitudes and behaviours, such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment, absenteeism, turnover intentions, organisational citizenship behaviour and work performance (Avey, 2014; Avey, Luthans, Smith & Palmer, 2010; Choi & Lee, 2013; Schaufeli, Bakker & Salanova, 2006). However, there is very little research that explores the interrelationship between constructs of SRI and PsyCap. Avey (2014) and Choi and Lee (2013) in fact suggest that personality may be an antecedent of PsyCap and, as SRI is constituted of sex-based personality traits, the present study undertook to determine if any association indeed exists between these two variables.

Furthermore, as all the aforementioned studies on SRI examined positive SRIs only, the present study undertook to examine the relationship between both positive and negative SRIs and PsyCap. This undertaking was driven by previous research findings on positive SRIs that have at times shown no relationship with health outcome variables or that there is even an inverse relationship with such variables. It has been argued that these inconsistent and at times counterintuitive findings may be due to the possibility that SRI consists of more than positive, socially desirable sex-based traits. Since the 1980s an ever-increasing subgroup of researchers on SRI have suggested that the construct consists of more dimensions than originally proposed and have argued for distinguishing or differentiating between socially desirable (positive) and undesirable (negative) gender role traits (Athenstaedt, 2003; Berger & Krahe, 2013; Bernstein, 2013; McCreary & Korabik, 1994; Ricciardelli & Williams, 1995; Spence et al., 1979; Wajsblat, 2011; Woodhill & Samuels, 2003, 2004). These researchers note that in the event of negative attributes being present, and their contribution not being assessed, this could confound research findings. In this regard a differentiated model which enables the examination of both positive and negative gendered attributes has been proposed (Berger & Krahe, 2013; Wajsblat, 2011; Woodhill & Samuels, 2003, 2004), and it is this model which was used in the present study to explore the relationship between SRIs and PsyCap. …

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