Janet Taylor Spence: Innovator in the Study of Gender

Alice H Eagly*, Wendy Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Janet Spence’s contributions moved gender researchers beyond a simple understanding of psychological gender in terms of individual differences in masculinity and femininity. In early work, she constructed the Personal Attributes Questionnaire, or PAQ, consisting of a masculine and a feminine scale, which she interpreted as assessing the core of psychological masculinity and femininity. Spence subsequently recognized that the masculine, or instrumental, scale reliably predicts only self-assertive, dominant behaviors and that the feminine, or expressive, scale reliably predicts only other-oriented, relational behaviors. Moreover, as her work developed, Spence came to understand this self-ascribed instrumentality and expressiveness, not as gender identity, but as two of the several types of psychological attributes that may become associated with individuals’ self-categorization as male or female. She then defined gender identity as the basic, existential sense of being male or female, which generally corresponds to one’s biological sex. Building on her ideas, we argue that gender identity instead encompasses both the sex categorization of oneself, usually as male or female, and self-assessments on gender-stereotypic instrumental and expressive attributes. These two levels of gender identity are linked by people’s self-stereotyping to the extent that they value their group membership as male or female.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-733
Number of pages9
JournalSex Roles
Volume77
Issue number11-12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Keywords

  • Biography
  • Expressiveness
  • Femininity
  • Gender identity
  • Instrumentality
  • Masculinity
  • Sex and gender attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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