Does Felt Gender Compatibility Mediate Influences of Self-Perceived Gender Nonconformity on Early Adolescents’ Psychosocial Adjustment?


concerning this article should be addressed to Meenakshi Menon, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study evaluated the hypothesis that self-perceived gender nonconformity is distressing to children because it undermines a confident sense of gender compatibility. Participants were 357 early adolescents (180 boys, M age = 12.68 years) in England who responded to questionnaires measuring friendship styles (preoccupied, avoidant), gender compatibility (typicality, contentedness), and adjustment (self-esteem, peer social competence, depression, narcissism). Sex differences in friendship styles indicated that preoccupied and avoidant styles were typical for girls and boys, respectively. Gender-atypical friendship styles predicted poor adjustment, and their impact on adjustment was partially mediated by felt gender compatibility. Results suggest that perceiving gender-atypical attributes in the self undermines adjustment partly because it leads children to feel incompatible with their gender collective.