Women and men dif fer in a few dimensions: assertiveness, tender -mindedness, and anxiety, as well as in aggression, sexuality , and depression. But do these dif ferences mean that there is such a thing as a masculine or feminine personality? This section explores the conceptions of masculinity and femininity and how the treatment of these topics has changed over time.
Starting in the 1930s, personality researchers began to notice that men and women differed in their responses to a number of personality items on lar ge inventories. For example, when asked whether they preferred to take baths or showers, women indicated that they preferred baths, whereas men indicated that they preferred showers. Based on these sex dif ferences, researchers assumed that the dif ferences could be described by a single personality dimension, with masculinity at one end and femininity at the other end. A person who scored high on masculinity was assumed to score low on femininity, and vice versa. Researchers assumed that all people could be located on this single masculinity-femininity dimension. Items that showed lar ge sex differences, such as "I enjoy reading Popular Mechanics " (men scored higher), and "I would enjoy the work of a librarian" (women scored higher), were used to construct a single scale of masculinity-femininity . But does a single scale with masculinity at one end and femininity at the other end really capture the important individual differences? Can't someone be both masculine and feminine? This question led to a new conception of sex-linked personality dif ferences—androgyny.
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