Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sex Role Identity and Variations in PsyCap Amongst South African Employees

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sex Role Identity and Variations in PsyCap Amongst South African Employees

Article excerpt

Introduction

A large body of research has explored the implications of academic stress on student wellbeing. A wide variety of personal factors have been implicated in the extent to which students perceive and experience stress, namely, personality factors such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience and positive versus negative affect. This research has indicated that some personality factors exert a positive and protective effect while others exert a deleterious effect, exacerbating the degree of stress perception and thereby the experience of stress. In addition, emotional intelligence (EQ) has also been implicated in the extent to which students experience academic stress with those with a greater degree of emotional intelligence experiencing less stress than those prepossessed with lower EQ (Austin et al. 2010; Conard and Matthews 2008; Harmon-Jones et al. 2010; Matthews et al. 2003; Saklofske et al. 2012). However, to the researchers' knowledge no research has been done examining the relationship between positive and negative SRI's, which are made up of sex-based personality traits, and academic stress. Consequently, the present study sought to examine this relationship and its implications for wellbeing in a sample of South African tertiary students. To follow is a review of the literature on SRI and academic stress and the proposed relationships between SRI, academic stress and selected outcome variables, namely, psychological wellbeing and self-esteem.

Defining sex role identity

Sex role identity refers to the sex-based personality traits that individuals have adopted into their behavioural repertoire. There are a number of schools of thought with regard to what determines an individual's SRI with some theorists proposing that the adoption of stereotypical gendered behaviour is innate while other propose that SRI is socially constructed (Johnson et al. 2007). Social constructionism posits that an individual's adoption of traits and behaviours reflects social and cultural prescriptive and normative attitudes of appropriate traits and behaviours for each sex (West and Zimmerman, 1998). Adopting the differentiated model of sex role identity which proposes that SRI consists of both positive and negative sex-based trait (Bernstein 2013; Bernstein and Osman 2016; Woodhill and Samuels 2003; 2004) the present study sought to examine the relationship between positive sex role identities and negative sex role identities and academic stress, psychological wellbeing and self-esteem. Within this approach there is the acknowledgement of 'sex- typing' and 'cross-typing' in which biological males could adopt either a masculine (prescribed and sex-typed) SRI or a feminine (proscribed and cross-typed) SRI. Similarly, a female could adopt a feminine (prescribed and sex-typed) SRI or a masculine (proscribed and cross-typed) SRI (Borna and White 2003; Eagly and Wood 2012; Heilman 2012; Woodhill and Samuels 2003; 2004). This approach also defines six possible sex role identities, namely: positive masculinity, that is, for example, ambition, assertiveness, decisiveness and self-confidence and positive femininity, that is, warmth, consideration, concern for the welfare of others and kindness. Positive androgyny contains a balance of both positive masculinity and femininity and is considered to be the developmental ideal as androgynous individuals have a wider repertoire of behavioural traits to draw upon and are therefore enabled to optimally adjust to a wider variety of contextual situations. Negative sex role identities are those of negative masculinity, negative femininity and negative androgyny and contained within these identities are the 'vices' or 'defects' of sex-based behavioural traits (Bernstein 2013; Woodhill and Samuels 2003; 2004). Negative masculine traits would be those of, for example arrogance, aggressiveness, and hostility and negative feminine traits would be those of, for example, submissiveness, anxiousness, excessive worrying and passivity. …

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