Relationships among androgyny, self-esteem, and trait coping style of Chinese university students
Xishan Huang, Xiao-lu Zhu, Juan Zheng, and Lin Zhang (South China Normal University), and Shiomi Kunio (Soai University), 2012, 40(6), 1005–1014

The authors investigated relationships of four gender role types - masculine, feminine, androgynous and undifferentiated - with self-esteem and trait copying style. The subjects were 432 university students, aged between 17 and 24 years, from five South China colleges and universities.

The instruments used were the Bem Sex Role Inventory, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Inventory and the Jiang, Huang and Lu Trait Coping Scale.

These Chinese results were consistent with findings elsewhere in the world, which show that the androgynous group had the highest level of self-esteem and a tendency toward postive coping, compared to the other three categories. Androgyny can be seen as the ability to show both masculine or feminine type behavior, as appropriate to different situations in a person's life. Thus an androgynous individual is able to show tough and decisive behavior at times and sensitive and caring type behavior at other times, whether they are biologically male or female.

The Bem Sex Role Inventory was developed in the mid 1970s.

The last forty years have been significant for research into sex roles. Over this time, in many cultures, the sex role options available for both females and males have broadened hugely. The old patriachal masculine role has been challenged, and the rise of feminism has seen the range of possibilities for girls and women increase correspondingly. While women and men in many cultures have discovered more freedom in their roles, there has developed a new respect for the importance of both the 'masculine' and 'feminine' roles. There is a time for people of both sexes to be tough at times and loving at other times.

Sex role freedom for females appears to have increased much more than for males. Nevertheless in many cultures, it is now more acceptable for the man to look after the children and for the woman to be the bread winner. Of course in Western countries there is now the concern that fewer males than females are qualifying for the highly paid professions. Another component of this is the greater recognition that there is now for gay and lesbian relationships, at least throughout the Western world. In my own country, New Zealand, we are poised to legislate to allow gay marriage and lesbian marriage (Civil Unions only allowed at this stage).

Maslow, in his writings described one of the characteristics of the self-actualizing personality as the ability to incorporate polarities within the personality. For example the apparent polarities of selfishness and unselfishness come together in the best mothers who love being mothers. Are they being selfish or unselfish in their mothering? Likewise the masculine and the feminine parts of everyone's personality come together in a natural way for the self-actualized person. At times the self-actualized person behaves in a 'masculine' way, and at times in a 'feminine' way.

I applaud this greater sense of freedom. Above all we should value our individual uniqueness. As I frequently used to remind my students as a Professor, we are all unique creations! Never in the history of humankind, has there ever been a person just like us. The important thing is to rejoice in this uniqueness and to realize that we have the right to be ourselves. In fact by discovering this uniqueness we are freed to make the most of our lives.

Robert A. C. (Bob) Stewart, PhD | Editor-in-Chief
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal