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Adolescent Gender-Role Identity and Mental Health: Gender Intensification Revisited


  • This research was supported by funding from the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin and the Hertz Foundation Research Fellowship. We thank the participating families of the Wisconsin Study of Families and Work for their continued involvement in this research.

concerning this article should be addressed to Heather A. Priess, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1202 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706. Electronic mail may be sent to


Gender intensification, an increased pressure for adolescents to conform to culturally sanctioned gender roles, has been posited as an explanation for the emergence of the gender difference in depression. This longitudinal study assessed whether 410 individuals became more stereotypical in their gender-role identity across adolescence and whether such patterns predicted depressive symptoms. Girls reported higher femininity than boys at ages 11, 13, and 15, but girls and boys did not differ in masculinity. Contrary to prevailing views, there was not evidence of intensification in femininity or masculinity. Positive trajectories in masculinity for both girls and boys predicted fewer depressive symptoms, particularly at moderate levels of stress. Findings suggest a need to reconceptualize gender intensification in ways that characterize contemporary adolescence.