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Sex role orientation, i. While it is now widely accepted that sex differences are modulated by the hormonal status of female participants menstrual cycle, hormonal contraceptive use , the question, whether hormonal status and sex hormones also modulate participants sex role orientation has hardly been addressed ly. The present study assessed sex role orientation and hormonal status as well as sex hormone levels in three samples of participants from two different cultures Northern American, Middle European.

Menstrual cycle phase did not affect participant's masculinity or femininity, but had a ificant impact on reference group. While women in their follicular phase low levels of female sex hormones determined their masculinity and femininity in reference to men, women in their luteal phase high levels of female sex hormones determined their masculinity and femininity in reference to women.

Hormonal contraceptive users rated themselves as ificantly more feminine and less masculine than naturally cycling women. Sex role orientation , also referred to as gender role orientation, gender role identity, gender role self-concept , or gender-related self has been described as a person's identification with personal attributes that are seen as appropriate for a typical man or woman in a given society, i.

These attributes have revealed to be related to various behaviors in numerous psychological domains, as, for example, health Lefkowitz and Zeldow, ; Zimmermann et al. Some studies demonstrate that sex role orientation was even more influential on outcome measures than biological sex e.

Consequently, individual differences in sex role orientation, have attracted considerable interest in psychological research since Bem's seminal work Bem, During the past decades it has come into focus, that sex differences are modulated by sex hormone levels and consequently, the hormonal status of female participants, i. Abilities typically stronger in men than women, like e.

On the contrary, abilities typically stronger in women than in men, like verbal and memory performance are more pronounced in naturally cycling women during their high-hormone luteal phase Hampson, ; Rosenberg and Park, ; Dadin et al. Likewise, hormonal contraceptives display both masculinizing, e. Furthermore, spatial abilities have been repeatedly related to estradiol and testosterone levels, although there is some discourse about the specific nature of the relationship e.

However, studies directly relating sex hormone levels to sex role orientation are rare—mostly focusing on adult and prenatal testosterone Baucom et al. Do women during their follicular phase also perceive themselves as more masculine compared to women during their luteal phase? Do women on hormonal contraceptives actually perceive themselves as more masculine or feminine than naturally cycling women? These questions tap into the old debate, whether a person's maleness or femaleness, like any other personality characteristics, is determined by socialization or vice versa to which extent it is determined by genetics or other biological factors, like sex hormone levels.

With reference to the social role theory, gender roles reflect the traditional social roles of male breadwinners and female caregivers Eagly and Steffen, ; Bosak et al. On the other hand, research indicating a role of prenatal androgen exposure for the development of gender-typical behavior endorsed biologically oriented theories Pasterski et al. At the present, biosocial interaction theories acknowledging causal roles for both biological and social influences on gender related behavior are proposed as more influential Halpern and Tan, ; Eagly and Wood, , p.

While the attributes viewed as typical for a man or woman may differ between societies and change over time, genetic factors and sex hormone levels may determine how strongly a person is able to identify herself with those roles. Consequently gender role stress , i. A of questionnaires have been developed in order to assess sex role orientation, including the Personal Attributes Questionnaire PAQ; Spence et al.

Both questionnaires assess sex role orientation by means of self-ascribed personality characteristics including mainly socially desirable and stereotypical self-perceived personality traits see Lenney, These characteristics are ased to distinct scales for masculinity and femininity. Thus, masculinity and femininity are viewed as different factors two-component model , rather than viewing the concept of sex role orientation as one bipolar dimension with masculinity and femininity presenting opposite poles of the same concept.

While a typical male integrates mostly masculine features and a typical female mostly feminine features, two additional sex-types have been derived from this two-dimensional approach. About a third of subjects from Bem's original study display androgyny Bem, Besides the fact that information gained by all self-report measures of gender roles may be biased through introspective limits or strategies of self-presentation see also van Well et al. Based on intercultural data it was shown that the questionnaire items did not share its psychometric properties throughout cultures Sugihara and Katsurada, ; Peng, ; Colley et al.

General criticism regarding its proposed factorial structure was raised in a meta-analysis Choi and Fuqua, While some factor analyses confirm the validity of the two-dimensional approach after excluding some of the items Gaudreau, ; Waters et al. Further, it was proposed that the questionnaire may exclude important aspects of gender role, as more aspects than personality traits are linked to gender Deaux and Lewis, ; Athenstaedt, , as, for example, abilities, relationships, physical characteristics, or occupational characteristics Twenge, The present study seeks to address the interplay of societal factors and sex hormone levels in a person's sex role identity and work toward a more universal measure of sex role orientation.

Our specific aims are to clarify the following basic questions regarding sex role in a cross-cultural approach:. Data were collected from three samples of participants: a an English-speaking Northern American sample of undergraduate students at the University of California, Irvine, comprised of 37 men, 40 naturally cycling women and 35 oral contraceptive OC users. The latter were excluded from further analyses.

Age of participants is summarized in Table 1 , cycle data of the naturally cycling groups are summarized in Table 2. All participants from samples a and b were students and had all passed their A-levels Abitur. Sample c was included to also get a picture of sex role orientation from a more general population, which is less homogenous in age and socio-economic status. Only subjects not currently on medication and without psychological, neurological, or endocrine disorders were allowed to participate.

Table 1. Only naturally cycling women with a cycle length between 20 and 36 days and a variability in cycle length of no more than 7 days were included. These criteria were based on the observations of Fehring et al. Cycle phase was determined using participants self-reports of their last period date, average cycle length, and—if available—confirmed by follow-up reports of the actual onset of their next period and their estrogen and progesterone levels see below.

Participants were ased to the early follicular groups with cycle days up to 3 days before ovulation. Participants were ased to the luteal groups with cycle days from 2 days after ovulation to 2 days before the expected onset of their next period. Ovulation was assumed 14 days before the onset of next period. All participants of samples a and b gave their ed written consent to participate in the study and approval by the local ethical boards was requested if required [sample a ]. Sample c was an Online sample, i. Participants could terminate the online survey at any time.

Only data of those participants who fully completed the online survey were included in the analyses. Therefore, we did not approach our institutional review board to obtain ethical approval or a waiver for studies on sample b and c.

Since it was non-invasive and performed on healthy adult volunteers who gave their informed consent to participate, 1 did not apply. Sex role was assessed by a simple six item scale. Rather than using a detailed questionnaire of personality or other characteristics that are viewed as typically masculine or feminine in a given culture, participants directly rated their masculinity and femininity, respectively on a scale of 1—9 Figure 1.

While this approach has the disadvantage of only representing the dimensions of masculinity and femininity by a single item, it has several advantages. First, the scale can be used in different cultures irrespective of what is perceived as typically masculine or feminine in a given culture. Second, in contrast to a longer questionnaire, the small of items allows to address differences in how participants perceive themselves not only with respect to the entire population, but also relative to the own and relative to the opposite sex. Thus, masculinity and femininity are each rated 3 times, relative to other men, other women or the entire population.

Third, due to the direct approach and the short duration, the scale can be combined with a qualitative approach by giving participants the opportunity to explain their choices. These explanations can be particularly valuable to assess what is perceived as typically male or female in different cultures and this knowledge can in the long term be used to construct a more comprehensive questionnaire of sex role orientation than is currently available.

Sample a completed the English version of the scale, samples b and c the German version. Samples a and b completed the scale in a paper- and pencil PP de prior to different further experiments, which will not be reported in this manuscript. Sample c completed the scale as part of an online questionnaire. Comparable to Bem's typology, we defined participants with i low masculinity as well as low femininity ratings compared to the entire population as indifferent , ii high masculinity, but low femininity ratings compared to the entire population as male , iii low masculinity, but high femininity ratings compared to the entire population as female , and iv high masculinity as well as high femininity ratings compared to the entire population as androgynous.

Rating larger than five were considered high, ratings lower than or equal to five were considered low. Female participants with a male typology and male participants with a female typology are referred to as flips. In samples a and c participants were given the opportunity to give a short written explanation for their choice of sex role ratings in their own wording in order to determine the characteristics of their sex role self-concept.

This was unfortunately not possible in sample b due to time restrictions, which is another reason why sample c was additionally included in the study. All other explanations were categorized to one of the following by two raters independently:. In men and naturally cycling women all three hormones were evaluated. For each participant we calculated the mean level for each hormone over the values assessed in the three samples that were collected over the course of an hour. The value for each sample was determined as the mean over duplicate measurements to ensure reliability of the assessment.

Hormone levels with a Coefficient of Variance higher than 25 between duplicate samples were excluded. All hormone levels were within the expected range for the respective participant group. Statistical analyses were performed using PASW statistics Sex role ratings were not expected to be normally distributed over all participants or in any subgroup 1 , as of course men were expected to have primarily high masculinity ratings and women were expected to have primarily high femininity ratings.

Therefore, non-parametric tests were applied. To determine, whether the hormonal status of participants affected their sex role ratings, the following analyses were performed. Mann—Whitney U -tests were used to compare i the sex role ratings of follicular and luteal women, in order to address menstrual cycle-dependent on the one hand and ii the sex role ratings of OC users and naturally cycling women to address oral contraceptive-dependent effects on the other hand see Section Does Culture or Hormonal Status Affect the Sex Role Self-concept?

To determine, whether the reference group influenced participants sex role ratings, i. Additionally, to determine, whether men, naturally cycling women and OC users in the different samples compared themselves more strongly to men or women, we used a stepwise multiple regression procedure.

To assess whether sex hormone levels related to sex role ratings, interrelations between the six sex role ratings and the levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone were evaluated by Spearman correlations i over all participants, ii separately for men, follicular women, luteal women, and OC-users see Section Does the Sex Role Self-concept Relate to Sex Hormone Levels? To determine whether the concept of sex role orientation had a one-factorial structure with masculinity and femininity forming opposite poles of one factor or a two-factorial structure with masculinity and femininity loading high on different factors, a principal component analysis was performed using varimax rotation see Section Do Culture, Sex, or Hormonal Status Affect the Factorial Structure of the Sex Role Self-concept for the .

Due to the small of factors and observed variables, we did not perform a confirmatory factor analysis. If not specified differently, the sample sizes included in the analyses equaled the description in the participants section. Figure 2. Median of the six sex role ratings in men, follicular women, luteal women and OC users of the three samples. Men rate themselves more masculine and less feminine than women.

Follicular and luteal women did not differ in their ratings. OC-users rate themselves more feminine less masculine than naturally cycling women. All groups rate themselves more masculine and less feminine in reference to women than in reference to men. Ratings in reference to the entire population do not equal the mean of ratings in reference to men and women. PP, paper-and-pencil; OC, oral contraceptive; masc, masculine; fem, feminine; M, in reference to men; F, in reference to women; ALL, in reference to the entire population; min, minimum rating; max, maximum rating.

We observed that in several cases the averaged ratings in reference to men and women deviated ificantly from the ratings in reference to the entire population e. This observation raised the question, which reference group men and women of different hormonal status use to determine their ratings in reference to the entire population, i. of stepwise multiple regression are summarized in Table 3.

In all three samples men determined their sex role largely in reference to men, i. In both undergraduate samples luteal women and OC-users determined their sex role in reference to women, i. However, follicular women determined their sex role largely in reference to men. In the Austrian Online sample drawn from the general population all female groups determined their sex role in reference to women. Table 3. of stepwise multiple regression for men, naturally cycling women and oral contraceptive OC users in the three samples.

Sex hormone levels were available from 35 men, 18 follicular women, 21 luteal women, and 33 OC users in the US undergraduate sample, as well as from 39 men, 19 follicular, and 14 luteal women in the Austrian undergraduate sample. Means and Standard deviations for each group are displayed in Table 4. Table 4. These correlations with estrogen did not reach ificance in the Austrian sample. In the single group analyses, we found contrary in the US and Austrian sample.

The more estrogen, the more masculine and the less feminine US men rate themselves. The more estrogen, the less masculine Austrian men they rate themselves. In follicular women of the US sample, only femininity ratings in reference to men showed an interrelation with sex hormone levels.

The more progesterone and testosterone, the more feminine US follicular women rated themselves in reference to men. In follicular women of the Austrian sample, testosterone and progesterone levels were not ificantly related to sex role ratings.

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