Effect of Gender-Types on Interpersonal Stress Measured by Blink Rate and Questionnaires: Focusing on Stereotypically Sex-Typed and Androgynous Types

By Hirokawa, Kumi; Yamada, Fumio et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Effect of Gender-Types on Interpersonal Stress Measured by Blink Rate and Questionnaires: Focusing on Stereotypically Sex-Typed and Androgynous Types


Hirokawa, Kumi, Yamada, Fumio, Dohi, Itsuko, Miyata, Yo, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Keywords: Interpersonal stress, Androgynous type, Stereotypically sex-typed type, Blink rate, Mixed-- sex pairs

This study was conducted to determine how differences of self gender-type and partner's gender-- type in Japan had an effect on interpersonal stress (anxiety/uneasiness) during a conversation among mixed-sex pairs. The level of interpersonal stress was discussed in relation to blink rate. The participants were assigned to one of the following four pair types: (a) Male and female were androgynous (maleA-femaleA); Co) Male was androgynous and female was stereotypically sex-typed as feminine (maleA-femaleST); (c) Male was stereotypically sex-typed as masculine and female was androgynous (maleST-femaleA); (d) Both were stereotypically sex-typed (maleST-femaleST). Dependent measures were (1) Blink rate during five-minute conversation of one-minute intervals, and (2) Questionnaires (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory I and Iceberg Profile). Results suggested that participants who had a conversation with an androgynous partner reduced their interpersonal stress.

People have two kinds of sexual identity; one is biological sex, the other is sociological sex (gender). Stereotypically sex-typed males have Masculinity, which is more socially desirable for men than for women, and which is associated with an instrumental orientation. Some characteristics of masculinity include assertiveness, activity, and determination. Stereotypically sex-typed females have Femininity, which is more socially desirable for women than for men, and which is associated with an expressive orientation. Some characteristics of femininity include kindness, commonality, and submissiveness. An individual who has both masculinity and femininity is called Androgynous, and is considered to be able to flexibly adapt to different conditions; i.e. an androgynous person can be either a good leader, or a good follower (Bem, 1974; Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1975).

Many studies on self gender identity have been conducted since the work of Bem (1974), and they have revealed individual differences in sex role orientation (Markstrom, 1989; Marsh & Byrne, 1991; Taylor & Hall, 1982; Whitley, 1983). According to Marsh and Byrne (1991), some studies proposed that an individual who had been stereotypically sex-typed corresponding to his/her sex would have a healthier mental life, whereas others suggested that only masculinity would be related to social and mental health. One of their hypotheses argued that an androgynous person high in both masculinity and femininity would be able to have higher social adaptability and better mental health (Falbo, 1982; Kelly, O'Brien & Hosford, 1981; Wiggins & Holzmuller, 1981). Moreover, even though there have been few studies on adaptability of conversation among more than two people, Ickes and Barnes (1978) reported that stereotypically sex-typed individuals behaved inflexibly and rigidly during communications. They assessed participants' conversational involvement by measuring the duration of time and the frequency of verbalization, mutual gaze, gesture and personal space. Ickes, Schermer and Steeno (1979) repeated their study with same sex pairs, and they suggested that the androgynous type was likely to facilitate conversational involvement. The results obtained by Lameke and Bell (1982) also showed pairs of androgynous females to be more able to develop relationships than pairs of feminine and undifferentiated females, by measuring signs of interpersonal attraction and behavioral conversation, such as verbalizations, gestures, and mutual gazes.

The present study was also conducted to determine how gender-type differences (i.e. androgynous (A) vs. stereotypically sex-typed (ST)) affect interpersonal stress during a conversation with a different sex partner. In this study, interpersonal stress means the anxiety or uneasiness that occurs during a first meeting. To assess this interpersonal stress, this study adopted blink rate as a psycho-physiological index, as well as difference of state of anxiety and uneasiness between pre- and post- conversation. …

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