Thesis: Bem Sex Role Inventory BSRI

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Bem Sex Role Inventory

How does Bem's multidimensional classification system differ from the unidimensional view of femininity and masculinity as bipolar opposites?

Bem's inventory lists twenty feminine characteristics, twenty masculine characteristics, and twenty neutral characteristics. The individual, regardless of gender is rated on both a score of masculinity and femininity, which allows the test taker to score high or low on both gender-coded categories. This acknowledges that people can possess many different characteristics deemed to be both feminine and masculine at the same time, rather than posits the differences between the gender as 'either/or.' The characteristics such as 'loyal' that might be seen as equally desirable for both genders act as a kind of 'control' as well as reinforcements for the idea that the genders share more desirable traits than the culture's view of polarized gender roles suggests.

Additionally, Bem's test grades certain attributes, both desirable and non-desirable for both genders, on a continuum. This suggests that not everyone is only masculine or feminine, and by expressing different traits as 'almost never' to 'almost always' she acknowledges the contextual nature of different attributes. Sometimes a man or woman may be a leader, other times a follower. By mixing the adjectives deemed quintessentially feminine or masculine, she diminishes the chance that biases on the part of the taker will cause him or her to try to engineer the test according to his or her gender self-image. Also, perhaps most fundamentally, by identifying traits as 'socially desirable' rather than inherent to the biological nature of sex she stresses the socially-constructed nature of the assumptions the test is measuring.

Sandra Bem identified items for the feminine and masculine subscales on the basis of social desirability. If an attribute was thought to be more desirable for a woman in American culture it was considered to be feminine. If an attribute was thought to be more desirable for a man in American culture it was thought to be masculine. The BSRI was first published in 1974. Do you think that lists of masculine and feminine attributes generated today in this manner might be different? How?

The roles of women and men and the perceived attributes of both genders have changed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Bem Sex Role Inventory BSRI.  (2008, September 6).  Retrieved August 17, 2019, from

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"Bem Sex Role Inventory BSRI."  6 September 2008.  Web.  17 August 2019. <>.

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"Bem Sex Role Inventory BSRI."  September 6, 2008.  Accessed August 17, 2019.