Implicit Theories of Masculinity and Femininity: Dualistic or Bipolar?


  • Support was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Grant BNS 76–17316), janet T. Spence and Robert L. Helmreich, Principal Investigators.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert Helmreich, Department of Psychology, 330 Mezes Hall, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712. The authors wish to thank Pamela Cobb and Faye Gibson for their assistance in preparation of the manuscript.


The present study addressed the question of whether persons’implicit personality theories include the notion that the possession of masculine and feminine characteristics tend to preclude each other so that the two clusters of attributes are perceived to be negatively correlated. Subjects (college students) were given one of four basic descriptions of a group of men or women. These descriptions specified the presence or absence of “masculine” or “feminine” attributes as defined by the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ). Subjects given descriptions specifying the presence or absence of “masculine” characteristics were asked the extent to which they could make inferences about the presence or absence of “feminine” characteristics. An analogous procedure was implemented for the descriptions specifying the presence or absence of “feminine” characteristics. The results confirm the hypothesis that individuals tend to perceive a negative relationship between masculinity and femininity in others.