The inventory of subjective masculinity experiences: development and psychometric properties.
The purpose of this article is to describe the development of the
Inventory of Subjective Masculinity Experiences (ISME) and to provide
preliminary evidence for the psychometric properties of this scale.
Subjective masculinity experiences are defined as men's subjective
experiences of what it means to be a man (e.g., As a man, I need to be
strong). Participants (220 men) completed the sentence, "As a man
..." 10 times. Participants' open-ended responses were coded
according to 23 dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences. Five
of the twenty-three ISME dimensions included responses that comprised at
least 5 percent of all participant responses: Family, Responsibility,
Emotional Toughness, Work, and Physical Body. Preliminary evidence for
the convergent, discriminant, and concurrent validity of these
dimensions was provided. The ISME-Family and ISME-Responsibility were
negatively associated with psychological distress, whereas the ISME-Work
was positively related to psychological distress. The ISME-Emotional
Toughness was negatively related to life satisfaction. The use of the
ISME in clinical and research settings is discussed.
Keywords: scale development, masculinity, subjective gender experiences, social constructionism
Wong, Y. Joel
LaFollette, Julie R.
Hickman, Sarah J.
|Publication:||Name: The Journal of Men's Studies Publisher: Men's Studies Press Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Men's Studies Press ISSN: 1060-8265|
|Issue:||Date: Fall, 2011 Source Volume: 19 Source Issue: 3|
|Topic:||Event Code: 310 Science & research|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
Gender has been described as "one of the central organizing
principles around which social life revolves" (Kimmel, 2000, p. 5).
From an early age, men learn to view their lives through gendered
lenses. Therefore, when men use statements such as, He needs to man up,
As a man, I need to be the breadwinner, and That was pretty ballsy, they
demarcate certain aspects of their or others' lives as gendered.
Although there is growing recognition by masculinity scholars that men
play an active role in creating meanings of masculinities (Addis &
Mahalik, 2003; Addis & Cohane, 2005; Wong & Rochlen, 2008),
quantitative research on this topic has been sparse.
Over the past 25 years, several quantitative measures have been developed to address different facets of masculinity, including ideology (Levant et al., 2007), norms (Mahalik et al., 2003), gender role conflict (O'Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986), and gender role stress (Eisler & Skidmore, 1987). However, one potential limitation of these measures is that they do not assess men's constructions of masculinities by connecting their life experiences to their gender. For instance, the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (Mahalik et al., 2003) includes items that address the masculine norm of self-reliance (e.g., I hate asking for help). Yet, these items do not assess men's explicit attempts to connect self-reliance to their gender. For example, a Chinese American man might be very self-reliant but may associate his self-reliance with Chinese culture rather than with his gender. Research on men's active attempts to relate their life experiences to gender has been found mainly in qualitative studies (e.g., Hammond & Mattis, 2005; Hutardo & Sinha, 2008; Tatum & Charlton, 2008). These studies typically involve interviews with men on their subjective understanding of masculinity. A common theme from these qualitative studies is that men's subjective understanding of what it means to be a man tends to be more diverse than the facets of masculinity assessed in existing measures of masculinity. For instance, although several qualitative studies (e.g., Diemer, 2002; Hammond & Mattis, 2005; Hurtado & Sinha, 2008) have found that for some African American and Latino men, family is a central component of what it means to be a man, there are currently no measures of masculinity that assess family-related constructs. The current study extends the work of previous qualitative studies (e.g., Tatum & Charlton, 2008) that examined men's constructions of masculinities. However, in contrast to qualitative research, our goal was to develop a quantitative measure so that findings on men's constructions of masculinities can be systematically replicated in future research. In the following section, we discuss the theoretical foundation for our new measure.
SUBJECTIVE GENDER EXPERIENCES
We present a new theoretical model, the Subjective Gender Experiences Model as the theoretical basis for constructing our measure. Our model is rooted in social constructionist perspectives on gender, which emphasizes that women and men are actively involved in constructing meanings of gender (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Wong & Rochlen, 2008). This process can occur in at least two ways. First, we refer to people's intellectual notions of what it means to be male or female as subjective gender definitions (e.g., It is important for men to be tough). One example of quantitative research on subjective gender definitions involves studies using the Hoffman Gender Scale. Hoffman and colleagues (2000) developed this measure which includes an open-ended question on women's and men's personal definitions of femininity and masculinity (e.g., "What do you mean by masculinity?"). Participants' responses are then coded according to categories of definitions of femininity and masculinity (Hoffman, Hattie, & Border, 2005).
Second, in contrast to subjective gender definitions, we propose that subjective gender experiences involve experiences of gender at the personally-relevant, experiential level (e.g., As a man, I must be tough). This distinction is critical because the focus of our new measure is on subjective gender experiences instead of subjective gender definitions. Subjective gender experiences can be further categorized as subjective femininity experiences for women and subjective masculinity experiences for men. Accordingly, we define subjective masculinity experiences as men's subjective experiences of what it means to be a man. We propose that a distinctive feature of subjective masculinity experiences is that masculinity is interpreted from the perspective of individual men rather than on the basis of societal-level masculine norms or ideologies (e.g., Levant et al., 2007; Mahalik et al., 2003). Put another way, subjective masculinity experiences focus on men's explicit attempts to make sense of their masculinity by connecting their life experiences to their gender. For instance, although the centrality of work has been identified as a dimension of masculine norms and ideology (e.g., Levant et al., 2007; Mahalik et al., 2003), work is not considered part of a man's subjective masculinity experiences unless a man explicitly links it to his gender (e.g., As a man, I need to work hard).
Finally, because gender is such a central aspect of one's life experiences (Kimmel, 2000), we theorize that subjective masculinity experiences are implicated in men's psychological well-being. Nevertheless, the Subjective Gender Experiences Model does not assume that all dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences are inherently dysfunctional or stressful. As discussed in our research questions, we posit that some dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences may be protective factors against mental health problems, whereas others may increase men's vulnerability to psychological distress.
GOALS OF THE STUDY
Against this backdrop, the goals of this study were to develop the Inventory of Subjective Masculinity Experiences (ISME), a measure of subjective masculinity experiences, and to provide preliminary evidence for its psychometric properties. One distinctive feature of the ISME is that it is a quantitative measure that is based on qualitative data. Specifically, dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences are assessed by coding participants' written responses to 10 "As a man ..." prompts.
Our study proceeded in two phases. We describe the development, coding, and scoring of the ISME in Phase 1. Additionally, our goal in Phase 1 was to code participants' data according to the 23 dimensions described in Table 1 (pp. 242-243). Because participants could write about anything associated with being a man in their 10 responses, we expected that the frequency for each of the 23 dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences would be relatively low. Given that data with a high proportion of zeros can create highly skewed data, we developed a rule requiring that an ISME dimension must comprise at least 5 percent of all participant responses (number of participants multiplied by the number of "As man ..." responses each participant provided) before it could be used for inferential statistical analyses. Therefore, we sought to identify the ISME dimensions that met the 5 percent threshold. The goal for Phase 2 was to examine the psychometric properties of the ISME dimensions that satisfied the 5 percent threshold. Although Phases 1 and 2 are distinct stages in the current study, the analyses for both phases are based on data from the same participants rather than from separate studies.
The aim of Phase 1 was to describe the development, coding, and scoring of the ISME and to identify the ISME dimensions that comprised at least 5 percent of all participant responses.
Development of the ISME
The development of the ISME was inspired by the Twenty Statement Test (Kuhn & McPartland, 1954), a measure used in cultural psychological research (e.g., Kanagawa, Cross & Markus, 2001; Hutnik & Street, 2010). In the Twenty Statement Test, respondents are asked to complete the sentence "I am ..." 20 times or to provide 20 responses to the open-ended question, "Who am I?" These open-ended responses are then coded by researchers based on various dimensions (e.g., relational aspects of identity) and used in cross-cultural comparisons. We adopted an analogous approach to assessing men's subjective masculinity experiences. Accordingly, the instructions for the ISME were adapted from those in the Twenty Statement Test:
After completing the 10 "As a man ..." responses, participants rated the frequency with which each of the 10 responses was stressful on a scale of 1 to 5. Collectively, these scores form a measure of stress that is distinct from the ISME. The psychometric properties for this stress measure is reported elsewhere (Wong, Shea, et al., 2011). However, the focus of this article is on the ISME dimensions derived from the 10 "As a man ..." qualitative responses.
Coding and Scoring of the ISME
The authors developed a coding manual (available upon request from the first author) based on dimensions of masculinities identified in the aforementioned review of the literature. The coding manual provides instructions on how to code participants' "As a man ..." responses according to the 23 ISME dimensions. The manual includes the criteria for the dimensions and examples of responses that fit the dimensions. The criteria for the dimensions are mutually exclusive, and the coding manual includes rules for distinguishing among the dimensions. Double coding (i.e., coding one response under more than ISME one dimension) is not allowed to avoid artificially inflating the correlations among the ISME dimensions. Table 1 provides examples of responses that were coded under the 23 dimensions. It should be noted that the ISME does not have an overall scale score; each dimension constitutes a separate measure.
Two female counseling psychology doctoral students coded all of participants' "As a man ..." qualitative responses based on the coding manual and a 3-hour training conducted by the first author. In addition, two undergraduate students (one male and one female) majoring in psychology coded the responses of 50 participants, which were then compared to the coding done by the doctoral students. Scores for the ISME dimensions were computed based on the number of times participants provided descriptions that fit specific dimensions in their 10 "As a man ..." responses. Scores ranged from 0 to 10. For instance, a participant who described work (e.g., As a man, I must work) in two responses, family (e.g., As a man, I am a father) in five responses, and dominance (e.g., As a man, I must be in charge) in three responses received scores of 2 for the ISME-Work, 5 for the ISME-Family, and 3 for the ISME-Dominance, and 0 for all other dimensions. Hence, high scores indicate that a particular ISME dimension is a salient component of a man's subjective masculinity experiences. Additionally, responses that did not fit with any of the 23 dimensions were coded as 0 for all dimensions. Examples of such responses include As a man, I feel happy and As a man, I am grateful. The interrater reliability for the coding of all responses was .66. Coding discrepancies were resolved through discussion by the coders. It should be noted that factor analysis was not conducted because the ISME dimensions were derived from qualitative data rather than from traditional rating scale items.
Participants and Procedures
Two hundred and twenty men (median age = 23, mean age = 26.24, SD = 9.21) were recruited from four public universities, electronic listservs of professional psychology organizations (e.g., Society of Counseling Psychology), and online interest groups (e.g., groups related to men's health) across the United States. The majority of participants (81%) were college students. In terms of racial background, 36.8% identified as White, 27.7% identified as Asian/Asian Americans, 25.5% identified as Latino, and 10.0% identified with other racial backgrounds (African American 0.9%, Native American 0.5%, and Other 8.6%). Among participants, 19.1% were married, while 28.6% were partnered (i.e., in a romantic relationship). All the questionnaires in the study were administered online through a computer survey program. Participants were given the choice of participating in the study from any computer.
As shown in Table 1, five ISME dimensions comprised at least 5 percent of participant responses. In order of frequency, these dimensions were: (a) Family, 11.7 percent, (b) Responsibility, 11.1 percent (c) Physical Body, 9.4 percent, (d) Emotional Toughness, 9.1 percent, and (e) Work 5.4 percent.
The goal of Phase 2 was to provide preliminary evidence for the psychometric properties for the five ISME dimensions that met the 5% threshold: (a) Family, (b) Responsibility, (c) Physical Body, (d) Emotional Toughness, and (e) Work. Specifically, we tested several hypotheses regarding the ISME's (a) convergent validity (whether the ISME dimensions were associated with other measures of theoretically related constructs), (b) discriminant validity (whether the ISME dimensions were weakly associated with a theoretically divergent measure), and (c) concurrent validity (whether the ISME dimensions were associated with measures of psychological well-being) (Hoyt, Warbasse, & Chu, 2006; Smiler & Epstein, 2010).
First, in terms of convergent validity, we hypothesized that:
(a) Men who were married or partnered would report higher ISME-Family scores than those who were single because family was likely to be a more salient aspect of the subjective masculinity experiences of these men;
(b) The ISME-Family would be positively related to relational self-construal (as measured by the Relational Interdependent Self-Construal Scale) because participants who viewed family as an important component of what it means to be a man likely defined themselves in terms of close relationships.
(c) The ISME-Physical Body would be positively related to masculine gender role stress associated with men's physical inadequacy (as measured by the Masculine Gender Role Stress Scale--Physical Inadequacy) given that both measures overlap in their focus on one's physical body.
(d) The ISME-Emotional Toughness would be modestly but positively related to masculinity-related constructed associated with controlling one's emotions (as measured by the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46--Emotional Control, Gender Role Conflict Scale--Restrictive Emotionality, and the Masculine Gender Role Stress Scale--Emotional Inexpressiveness) because of a broadly similar focus on emotional inexpressiveness.
(e) The ISME-Work would be modestly but positively related to conformity to the masculine norm of work (as measured by the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46--Primacy of Work) because of a broadly similar focus on work.
Second, in terms of discriminant validity, we anticipated that each of the five ISME dimensions would not be related to social desirability (as measured by the MarloweCrowne Social Desirability Scale 2(10)) because there is no theoretical reason to expect a relationship between subjective masculinity experiences and social desirability.
Third, the Subjective Gender Experiences Model proposes that subjective masculinity experiences are implicated in men's psychological well-being because of the centrality of gender in men's lives (Kimmel, 2000). Accordingly, we tested the relationships between the five ISME dimensions and psychological well-being to examine evidence for concurrent validity. Specifically, we focused on psychological distress (as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory-18) and life satisfaction (as measured by the Satisfaction With Life Scale). We predicted that:
(a) The ISME-Family and ISME-Responsibility would be negatively related to psychological distress and positively related to life satisfaction, given that a focus on family might draw participants' attention to their interconnectedness with their loved ones and that responsibility is generally regarded as a positive attribute.
(b) The ISME-Work, ISME-Emotional Toughness, and ISME-Physical Body would be positively related to psychological distress and negatively related to life satisfaction because of previous research showing that men's conformity to the masculine norm of primacy of work, restrictive emotionality, and body image concerns were related to poorer mental health outcomes (Cafri et al., 2005; Mahalik et al., 2003; O'Neil, 2008).
Information about participants and procedures is provided in the Phase 1 method section. In addition to the ISME, the following measures were used in Phase 2.
Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46 (CMNI-46)
The CMNI-46 (Parent & Moradi, 2009) is a short version of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI; Mahalik et al., 2003), a measure of men's conformity to masculine norms. Although the CMNI-46 has nine subscales and an overall scale, we used only the subscales of Primacy of Work (e.g., "Work comes first") and Emotional Control (e.g., "I never share my feelings"). Items are rated on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). Higher scores reflect greater conformity to masculine norms. In terms of concurrent validity, the original CMNI Primacy of Work subscale was positively related to phobic anxiety, and the CMNI Emotional Control subscale was positively related to social dominance and aggression (Mahalik et al., 2003). In the present study, the Cronbach's alphas for the CMNl-46 Primacy of Work subscale and the Emotional Control subscale were .83 and .91, respectively.
Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS)
The 37-item GRCS is a measure of gender role conflict (O'Neil et al., 1986). Although it has an overall scale and four subscales, we focused only on the Restrictive Emotionality subscale. This subscale measures men's difficulty expressing emotions. A sample item is, "I have difficulty expressing my tender feelings." Items are rated on a 6-point scale (1 = strongly disagree; 6 = strongly agree). High scores indicate greater levels of restrictive emotionality. Wong and Rochlen (2005) summarized many studies showing that the Restrictive Emotionality subscale was associated with negative mental health outcomes. In the present study, the Cronbach's alpha for the Restrictive Emotionality subscale was .89.
Masculine Gender Role Stress Scale (MGRSS)
The 40-item MGRSS examines situations that produce masculine gender role stress for men (Eisler & Skidmore, 1987). Items are rated on a 6-point scale ranging from 0 (not stressful) to 6 (extremely stressful). Although the scale has an overall score and five subscales, we only used the Physical Inadequacy subscale (e.g., "Feeling that you are not in good physical condition") and the Emotional Inexpressiveness subscale (e.g., "Telling someone you feel hurt by what she/he said"). Higher scores reflect greater masculine gender role stress. Eisler and Blalock (1991) reviewed studies showing that the MGRSS was associated with deleterious physical and mental health outcomes (Eisler & Blalock, 1991). For this study, the Cronbach's alphas for the Emotional In && expressiveness subscale and the Physical Inadequacy subscale were .75 and .80, respectively.
Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)
The five-item SWLS examines individuals' global life satisfaction based on personal standards (Diener, et al., 1985). The items are rated on a 7-point scale (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree). Higher scores indicate greater life satisfaction. A sample item is, "I am satisfied with life." In terms of convergent validity, Diener et al. (1985) found that the SWLS was associated with the Bradburn Affect Balance scale. In the current study, the Cronbach's alpha was .88.
Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BS1-18)
The BSI-18 (Derogatis, 2000) is an 18-item measure of psychological distress. Although it comprises three subscales, we focused only on the overall scale. Respondents rate how much they have been bothered or distressed by various problems during the past seven days on a five-point scale, ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely). An example of an item is, "How much were you distressed by feeling blue?" The BSI-18 has been found to be highly correlated with the NCCN Distress Management Screening Measure (Hoffman, Zevon, D'Arrigo, & Cecchini, 2004). In the current study, the Cronbach's alpha was .94.
Relational Interdependent Self-Construal Scale (R1SCS)
The 11-item RISCS assesses the extent to which individuals consider close relationships when defining themselves (Cross, Bacon, & Morris, 2000). Respondents rate the items on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree). A sample item is, "My close relationships are an important reflection of who I am." High scores indicate that respondents rely strongly on close relationships in one's definition of self. Cross, Gore, and Morris (2003) showed that the RISCS was correlated with the Milberg's Communal Orientation Scale (Cross, Gore, & Morris, 2003). The current study demonstrated a Cronbach's alpha of .89.
Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale 2(10) (M-C2(10))
The 10-item M-C2(10) consists of true-false items (0 =false, 1 = true) to assess the tendency to provide socially desirable responses (Strahn & Gerbasi, 1972). An example of an item is, "I am always courteous, even to people who are disagreeable." Reynolds (1982) found that the M-C2(10) was correlated with the Edwards Social Desirability Scale (Reynolds, 1982). In terms of reliability, the KR-20 coefficient for the current study was .60.
To examine deviations from normality in the distribution of the ISME dimension scores, we converted skewness and kurtosis scores into z scores. There was significant skewness in all five ISME dimensions (z [greater than or equal to] 5.91, p < .001 for all five ISME dimensions) and significant kurtosis for the ISME Work, ISME Emotional Toughness, and ISME Responsibility (z [greater than or equal to] 2.34, p < .05). To address non-normality in the distribution of scores, outliers (> 3 SDs below and above the mean) in the five ISME dimensions were excluded from analyses, resulting in the deletion of data for 3 participants for the ISME-Family, ISME-Responsibility, ISME-Emotional Toughness, and ISME-Work, and 4 participants for the ISME-Physical Body. In addition, the scores for all five ISME dimensions were log transformed. To facilitate ease of interpretation, standardized z scores were used for all subsequent analyses involving the five ISME dimensions.
Given the racial diversity of our sample, we examined whether participants from diverse racial backgrounds (White, Asian, Latino, and Other) differed in their ISME-Emotional Toughness, ISME-Work, ISME-Responsibility, ISME-Family, and ISME-Physical Body scores. Four ANOVAs revealed no significant racial differences in the five ISME dimensions, p > .05. The intercorrelations among the five ISME dimensions are provided in Table 2. In general, the ISME dimensions were not significantly related to one another with two exceptions. The ISME Physical Body was negatively related to the ISME Family and ISME Responsibility.
A one-tailed test was used for all hypotheses that were directional. In terms of convergent validity, men who were married or partnered reported higher ISME-Family scores (M = .27, SD = .95) than those who were single (M = -.28, SD = .98), t(214) = 4.16, p < .001 (equal variance not assumed), d = .56. In addition, the ISME-Family was positively related to the RISCS (r = .19, p = .003). Contrary to hypothesis, the ISME-Physical Body was not significantly related to the MGRSS Physical Inadequacy (r = .06, p = .186). However, as hypothesized, the ISME-Emotional Toughness was positively associated with the CMNI-46 Emotional Control (r = .13, p = .030), the GRCS Restrictive Emotionality (r = .12, p = .040), and the MGRSS Emotional Inexpressiveness (r = .16, p = .008). Consistent with our hypothesis, the ISME-Work was positively related to the CMNI-46 Primacy of Work subscale (r = .18, p = .004).With respect to discriminant validity, we anticipated that the ISME dimensions would not be significantly related to the M-C2(10). We found that the ISME dimensions were not significantly associated with the M-C2(10) (p > .05), with one exception: the ISME-Physical Body was negatively associated with the M-C2(10), r = -.15, p = .028.
To test the concurrent validity of the five ISME dimensions, we examined their relationships with psychological well-being as measured by the BSI-18 and SWLS. As shown in Table 3, the ISME Family and ISME Responsibility were significantly and negatively related to the BSI-I 8, whereas the ISME-Work was significantly and positively associated with the BSI-18. In contrast, the ISME Emotional Toughness and the ISME Physical Body were not significantly related to the BSI-18. The ISME Emotional Toughness was the only ISME dimension that was significantly and negatively related to the SWLS. None of the other ISME dimensions was related to the SWLS.
Guided by the Subjective Gender Experiences Model, the goal of this study was to develop the ISME and provide preliminary evidence for its psychometric properties. We focused only on the five ISME dimensions that included responses comprising at least 5% of all participant responses. In order of frequency, these five ISME dimensions were the ISME-Family, ISME-Responsibility, ISME-Physical Body, ISME-Emotional Toughness, and ISME-Work. The emergence of family (12%) as the most frequently endorsed dimension of subjective masculinity experiences is noteworthy because family has not been identified as a major dimension of masculinity in previous quantitative research. In contrast, several qualitative studies on men of color's constructions of masculinity have shown that family is a salient feature of what it means to be a man (e.g., Diemer, 2002; Hammond & Mattis, 2005; Hurtado & Sinha, 2008). Because of the racially diverse nature of our sample, our finding might reflect the emphasis on relationships found in collectivistic non-Western cultures. However, we found no evidence for this premise, given the lack of significant racial differences in ISME-Family scores.
In terms of convergent validity, the ISME-Family was positively related to a measure of relational interdependent self-construal. In other words, men who regarded family as an important dimension of their subjective masculinity experiences tended to define themselves in terms of close relationships. Moreover, married or partnered men reported higher ISME-Family scores than those who were single. As hypothesized, the ISME-Emotional Toughness was positively associated with other masculinity measures of emotional inexpressiveness. Specifically, men who had higher ISME-Emotional Toughness scores reported higher CMNI-46 Emotional Control scores, GRCS Restrictive Emotionality scores, and MGRSS Emotional Inexpressiveness scores. Consistent with our hypothesis, men with high ISME-Work scores reported higher CMNI-46 Primacy of Work scores. However, contrary to our hypotheses, the ISME-Physical Body was not significantly related to the MGRSS Physical Inadequacy. Perhaps the MGRSS Physical Inadequacy was not the most appropriate measure to assess the ISME-Physical Body's convergent validity because with the exception of one item, the items in the MGRSS Physical Inadequacy do not explicitly assess physical inadequacy (e.g., Being compared unfavorably to men). Among the ISME dimensions significantly associated with other masculinity measures, the magnitude of the relationships was relatively modest (r = .12 -. 18), suggesting that these ISME dimensions measured relatively distinct variables from those of other masculinity measures.
In terms of discriminant validity, we found, as anticipated, that four of the five ISME dimensions were not significantly related to the MC2(10). These findings suggest that, in general, there was little evidence that participants' ISME responses reflected a concern with social desirability. Nevertheless, there was one exception--participants with high levels of social desirability tended to have lower ISME-Physical Body scores. Perhaps discussions of one's body tend to be viewed as a private matter; therefore, men with high levels of social desirability might be less comfortable providing descriptions about their physical bodies.
In terms of concurrent validity, we assessed the associations between the ISME dimensions and measures of well-being. The ISME Physical Body was not significantly related to measures of psychological well-being. One possibility is that the physical body is a relatively neutral dimension of subjective masculinity experiences that has little bearing on men's psychological well-being (e.g., participants might not view their bodies in an evaluative manner). However, consistent with our hypotheses, the remaining four ISME dimensions were related to at least one measure of well-being. Men with higher ISME-Responsibility and ISME-Family scores reported less psychological distress, suggesting that men who regarded responsibility and family as important dimensions of their subjective masculinity experiences tended to be psychologically more healthy. Men with higher ISME-Work scores reported greater psychological distress. Additionally, men with higher ISME-Emotional Toughness scores reported less life satisfaction. This finding dovetails with previous research showing that men's restrictive emotionality was positively related to indicators of mental health problems (e.g., Wong, Pituch, & Rochlen, 2006). Collectively, these findings point to the complexities of subjective masculinity experiences. That is, some dimensions of subjective masculinity experiences (e.g., Work and Emotional Toughness) may be risk factors for psychological problems, whereas others (e.g., Family and Responsibility) may be protective factors.
STRENGTHS OF THE ISME
Several strengths in the ISME should be noted. It is significant that the two most frequently endorsed ISME dimensions--the ISME-Family and ISME-Responsibility-measure dimensions of masculinity not assessed in current quantitative measures of masculinity. Over the past 20 years, quantitative research on men and masculinity has focused largely on the negative aspects of masculinity (O'Neil, in press; Smiler, 2004; Wong et al., 2010). In contrast, several scholars have advocated for greater research and clinical attention to positive dimensions of masculinity (Hammer & Good, 2010; Kiselica et al., 2008; O'Neil, in press). Given that the ISME-Family and ISME-Responsibility were both negatively related to psychological distress, it is possible that they might represent overlooked, albeit important positive dimensions of masculinity that deserve greater scholarly attention.
Additionally, the ISME is, to our knowledge, the first quantitative measure of men's subjective masculinity experiences. As a construct, subjective masculinity experiences are distinct from other well-established masculinity constructs, such as masculine ideologies (Levant et al., 2007), norms (Mahalik et al., 2003), and gender role conflict (O'Neil, 2008). As described in our Subjective Gender Experiences Model, the mere fact that a man exhibits behavior resembling high levels of conformity to masculine norms (e.g., risk taking) does not mean that that he regards this behavior as relevant to his subjective experiences of masculinity. Grounded in social constructionist perspectives on masculinity (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Wong & Rochlen, 2008), subjective masculinity experiences are unique as a construct in its explicit focus on men's active attempts to construct their masculinities by relating their life experiences to their gender.
From a methodological perspective, the ISME draws from the combined strengths of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. As a quantitative measure that relies on qualitative data, the ISME provides participants with the latitude to complete the "As a man ... " prompt as they see fit, thus capturing naturalistic and spontaneous descriptions that may be more difficult to assess using Likert-type rating scales (Wong, Tran, Kim, Van Horn Kerne, & Calfa, 2010). Moreover, the ISME addresses an important criticism of social science research. Hoyt et al. (2006) commented that statistically significant relationships between self-report scales ratings may be due to similar responses across measures of the same modality rather than actual associations between the underlying variables. Because of the open-ended responses in the ISME, the validity evidence for the ISME dimensions was based on a multimodal methodological strategy. By assessing the relationship between the ISME dimensions and measures based on rating scales (e.g., BSI-18), we could rule out shared method variance as a possible explanation for statistically significant relationships.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
In terms of limitations, we acknowledge that our findings are limited by our sample of mainly U.S. male college students. We encourage researchers to assess the psychometric properties of the ISME with samples from diverse (e.g., racial, religious, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic) backgrounds. Additionally, we did not provide adequate validity evidence for the ISME-Physical Body, given that it was not significantly related to the MGRSS Physical Inadequacy and measures of well-being. Accordingly, we encourage further research on the ISME-Physical Body. For instance, to assess convergent validity, researchers can test whether the ISME-Physical Body is related to the Drive for Muscularity Scale (McCreary & Sasse, 2000), a measure of individuals' perception that they are not muscular enough.
Further, we only examined the validity evidence for 5 out of the 23 ISME dimensions. However, we view the assessment of the ISME dimensions' validity as an incremental process. Having provided preliminary validity evidence for four ISME dimensions, we encourage more research on the validity of the other ISME dimensions. One challenge in using the ISME dimensions is that a high proportion of zeros on participants' responses to specific ISME dimensions can create highly skewed data. To address this issue, we encourage researchers to match the specific ISME dimensions of interest with samples of men likely to score high on those dimensions. For example, it might be helpful to use a sample of college or professional football players to examine the ISME-Sports. Future studies should also test whether the ISME dimensions might be associated with a broader range of outcomes, such as physical and interpersonal health as well as help seeking.
Finally, we encourage scholars to use the ISME in creative ways to break new ground in research on men and masculinity. Recently, Addis, Mansfield, and Syzdek (2010) criticized the current state of quantitative research for not paying sufficient attention to the contextual nature of men's gendered behavior and for operationalizing masculinity as global, trait-like individual differences. One way to address these criticisms is to operationalize masculinity as a malleable state that can temporarily influence and be influenced by men's social interactions, behavior, emotions, and cognitions. For example, future research on the ISME can draw from the tradition of social psychological experiments that rely on priming techniques (e.g., Dalsky, 2010). We envision two possible priming approaches. First, men can be randomly assigned to different social, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional priming conditions (e.g., through a writing exercise). Researchers can then examine whether participants in different conditions vary in their responses to the ISME. Such a study would treat masculinity as a dependent variable that can be modified in response to social, cognitive, or emotional influences. Alternatively, masculinity can be treated as an independent variable; that is, the ISME can be used to prime men with masculinity concepts to assess the impact of subjective masculinity experiences on outcomes such as emotional states, social judgments, and attitudes. For example, by randomly assigning men to complete the ISME versus the Twenty Statement Test (Kuhn & McParland, 1954), researchers can test whether a focus on subjective masculinity experiences has an influence on men's affective state (e.g., lower levels of positive emotions).
We envision that the ISME can be used by counselors as a therapeutic tool to examine their male clients' subjective masculinity experiences. Because of the open-ended nature of the "As a man ..." prompt, the ISME captures male clients' personally meaningful constructions of masculinities rather than constrain their responses to their extent of agreement with predefined notions of masculinity. Counselors can use their male clients' responses to the ISME to initiate a therapeutic conversation on the influence of gender in their clients' lives. For example, with a client who frequently describes his subjective masculinity experiences in terms of emotional toughness, the counselor can ask him about how he learned to associate emotional toughness with being a man as well as the positive and negative consequences of being emotionally tough. In a therapeutic group setting, male clients can be invited to complete the ISME and then share their responses with other group members. Such conversations can help clients gain a more complex understanding of the myriad ways in which men can construct their masculinities. In conclusion, we propose that the ISME provides researchers and counselors with an assessment tool that captures an important perspective on masculinity--one that focuses on men's subjective experiences of what it means to be a man. We encourage researchers and counselors to use the ISME in innovative ways to help men experience their full human potential.
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Y. JOEL WONG (a), MUNYI SHEA (b), JULIE R. LAFOLLETTE (a), SARAH J. HICKMAN (a), NICHOLAS CRUZ (b), and TAMAR BOGHOKIAN (b)
(a) Indiana University Bloomington.
(b) California State University-Los Angeles.
The third and fourth authors contributed equally to this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Y. Joel Wong, Counseling and Educational Psychology Department, Indiana University Bloomington, 107 S. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405. Email: email@example.com
The following questions are about gender issues. Please describe your personal experience of what it means to be a man by completing the following sentence, "As a man ..." 10 times. Just give 10 different responses. Respond as if you were giving the answers to yourself, not to somebody else. There are no right or wrong responses. Don't worry about logic or importance, and don't over-analyze your responses. Simply write down the first thoughts that come to your mind.
Table 1 Dimensions of Subjective Masculinity Experiences in the ISME Dimension Description 1 ISME-Family Family, fatherhood, romantic/spousal relationships 2 ISME-Responsibility Being responsible, being accountable, setting an example for others, being a leader, having integrity, being reliable, doing one's best, leaving a legacy for others 3 ISME-Physical Body Physical body parts or function, biological processes, body image, physical fitness 4 ISME-Emotional Being emotionally strong, Toughness controlling one's emotions, not crying, being stoic, not disclosing weakness, not being vulnerable 5 ISME-Work Work, earning money, career, academics 6 ISME-General Competence Intelligence, competence, feeling capable/confident, concerns about competence 7 ISME-Sports Sports, being athletic, engaging in physical activity 8 ISME-Virility Sexual prowess, desire for sex, promiscuity, being a good lover, playboy, or lady's man 9 ISME-Alienation Feeling like a misfit or alienated from others, experiencing discrimination, being a minority, not fitting in with others 10 ISME-Gentleman Being chivalrous, polite, sophisticated, charming, paying for dates 11 ISME-Independence Independence, not depending on others, self-reliant 12 ISME-Technology Being handy, being able to fix things, being able to operate machines, technological interests or abilities, interest in computers or video games 13 ISME-Competitiveness Being competitive, outdoing others, desire to win or be the best, driven personality, fear of losing to others 14 ISME-Status Having status, being important, gaining power, being rich, owning things that are status symbols 15 ISME-Domination Dominating others, having power/one's own way, expecting others to comply with one's wishes, desire to be respected or admired by others 16 ISME-Pro-Feminism Belief in gender equality, awareness of sexism, awareness of male privileges, involvement in anti-sexist activities 17 ISME-Friendship Friends, pals, buddies 18 ISME-Aggression Aggressive behavior, fighting, hurting others physically, guns/weapons, violent movies/games, bullying 19 ISME-Heterosexism Emphasizing one's heterosexual identity, not wanting to appear gay, anti-gay, homophobia 20 ISME-Anti-Femininity Dislike/fear of doing something stereotypically associated with women and girls or perceived to be feminine 21 ISME-Risky Behavior Taking risks, avoidance of safety, involvement in "dare-devil" or health risk behaviors 22 ISME-Superiority Being superior to women, Over Women expecting women to be subservient to men, attempts to control women 23 ISME-Phallic Competence Ability to biologically father a child (focus is not on sex per se but on having offspring), concern with continuing one's family lineage Example Reference 1 Provide for family Diemer (2002); Hammond & Mattis (2005); Hurtado & Sinha(2008) 2 I have to be responsible and Hammond & Mattis accountable for my actions (2005); Steinfeldt et al. (2010); Tatum & Charlton, 2008 3 I am short Cafri et al. (2005); Mc-Creary & Sasse (2000) 4 I can't be too emotional Brannon (1985); Eisler & Skidmore, 1987; Levant et al. (2007) Mahalik et al. (2003); O'Neil et al. (1986); Wong & Rochlen (2005) 5 I work hard Mahalik et al. (2003) 6 I must be able to solve Brannon (1985) problems 7 I am athletic Messner (1995); Pascoe (2003) 8 I am sexy Levant et al. (2007); Mahalik et al. (2003); Mosher & Sirkin (1984); Snell, Belk, & Hawkins (1986) 9 Feel like I was born in the Liu (2005) wrong body 10 You can't hit a woman Stobbe (2005) 11 I have to become independent Levant et al. (2007); Mahalik et al. (2003) 12 Fix own cars Lie (1995) 13 I am very competitive Mahalik et al. (2003); against my peers O'Neil et al. (1986) 14 I probably care about status Mahalik et al. (2003) and power more than woman 15 You constantly have to Levant et al. (2007); display your dominance. Mahalik et al. (2003); 16 I think society is very Hurtado & Sinha (2008); unfair against women White (2006) 17 I have a lot of buddies Greif (2009); Hodgetts & Rua (2010) 18 I have been in a fight Brannon (1985); 19 I only date women Levant et al. (2007); Mahalik et al. (2003); Mosher & Sirkin (1984) 20 I can't like "feminine" Levant et al. (2007); things Mahalik et al. (2003); O'Neil et al. (1986) 21 I am not afraid of dangerous Brannon (1985); Levant et jobs al. (2007) 22 My wife must obey me Brannon (1985); Mahalik et al. (2003); Mosher & Sirkin (1984) 23 I must be able to father my Mahalik et al. (2003) own offspring Ampofo, Okyerefo, & Pervarah (2009) n % 1 252 11.7 2 239 11.1 3 201 9.4 4 196 9.1 5 116 5.4 6 87 4.1 7 73 3.4 8 65 3.0 9 65 3.0 10 53 2.5 11 46 2.1 12 46 2.1 13 33 1.5 14 32 1.5 15 27 1.3 16 23 1.1 17 21 1.0 18 20 0.9 19 14 0.7 20 14 0.7 21 13 0.6 22 8 0.4 23 6 0.3 Note: n and % refer to the number of times and percentage of participants' responses coded under a particular dimension. ISME = Inventory of Subjective Masculinity Experiences. Examples were selected from participants' responses to the ISME. Table 2 Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations of the ISME Dimensions ISME Dimension 1 2 Range 1. Family -1.19-1.97 -- 0.08 2. Work -.76-2.83 -- 3. Emotional Toughness -1.05-1.84 4. Physical Body -.91-2.26 5. Responsibility -.97-2.27 ISME 3 4 5 1. Family -0.05 -.23 ** 0.09 2. Work 0.00 -0.03 0.12 3. Emotional Toughness -- 0.10 0.02 4. Physical Body -- -.27 ** 5. Responsibility -- Note: n = 213 to 217; ISME = Inventory of Subjective Masculinity Experiences; all ISME dimension scores were standardized; M = 0, SD = 1.00 for all ISME dimensions. ** P<.01. Table 3 Correlations of the ISME Dimensions with BSI-18 and SWLS ISME Dimension BSI-18 SWLS Family -.14 * .07 Work .17 ** -.11 Emotional Toughness .08 -.12 * Physical Body .03 .04 Responsibility -.12 * .06 Note: n = 216 to 217; ISME = Inventory of Subjective Masculinity Experiences; BSI-18= Brief Symptom Inventory-18, SWLS = Satisfaction with Life Scale. * p<.05. ** p<.01.
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