Research (Study)

This study begins by expounding on the definition of masculinity and
femininity as the terms that are often used to identify a set of
characteristics, values, and meanings related to gender (Pawlik, nd.), but
replacing how it relates to gender with the sculpting of how it relates to
one’s self regardless of gender. This is because the “modern” heterosexual
couple’s design has also changed. Women are becoming a driving force in the
working community and men are staying home to raise children. This informal
switching of the roles has drawn a line of perceived masculinity and femininity
in heterosexuals as well as those of gay and lesbian relationships. This
consciousness allows assistance in forming solutions to problems that can be
caused due to external and internal elements that cause or enforce societal
deceptions and/or manipulation over one’s lives. It is strongly believed that
recognizing patterns and meaning with respect to events taking place around and
within us is a central component to reaching higher levels of awareness,
specifically, the internal patterns that take place within the body, mind and
feelings (Nelson, 2013). This holds true to many other stereotypical bias
established today. Many feminist psychologists have often asserted that when
these stereotyped gender differences do exist, they do so according to
misperceptions, prejudices, gender-role conformity (LaFrance & Banaji 1992;
Unger 1998), social conditioning, modeling, and reinforcements (Chrisler &
Smith 2004) rather than because of innate biological underpinnings.

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of the Study

The abundance of
knowledge obtained from the literature review while researching my chosen topic
has prepared me with the support needed to continue this study. This research
has allowed a lens of needed knowledge in the field of continuous family
development. This family development opens the eyes of family dynamics and
functional barriers within society today. This study combines the cultural
dynamics of gender roles in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian relationships to
form patterns that affect the growth and success of these relationships. The
barriers of gender classification fall on the self-identifying masculine or
feminine traits of each partner and how they mold the couple connection,
communication, dynamics, employment positioning, health, and support. 


     In the design and cultivation for my
presented study, there was need to focus on the two theoretical approaches. The
first would be the Social Identity Theory. This theory connects the utilized
variables and demonstrates how affected by the society of today. Over time, the
definitions of masculinity and femininity between the sexes have written
themselves over and over. These definitions are molded by culture, race,
society, and the individual. Lodge and Umberson (2013), supported that concept
of masculinity in men change even in men. Their study focused on the how late
age adult males connected their lives, attributes, strength, and ability to the
changing of time and society.  This
concept was also supported with Connell (1992), as he covered the effects and
battles between masculinity and femininity of those males that identify as
gay.  Due to these effects, it leads to
the second theoretical approach as defined as the Queer or Gender Theory.

Stressor’s, Society, Gender-role Identification, and Communication

Literature Review One

Perrin, P. P., Heesacker, M., Tiegs, T., Swan,
L., Lawrence, A., Smith, M., & Mejia-Millan, C. (2011). Aligning mars and
venus: The social construction and instability of gender differences in
romantic relationships. Sex Roles,
64(9-10), 613-628.


In an article by Perrin, Heesacker, Tiegs, Swan, Lawrence Jr., Smith, Carrillo,
Cawood, and Mejia-Millan (2010), these
authors expounded on the significant identification of gender roles and how
they affect romantic relationships. This article supported how dynamic
self-identified roles of masculinity and femininity are perceived in sexuality
and relationship support. It also connects the verbal and non-verbal aspects of
communication and how the “care” factor can be perceived by individuals based
on how they self-identify.  Their study
supported that there is a strong correlation when it comes to male and female
partners in communication and relationship support. Now their study begins to
re-define when it comes to those couples of the same-sex. In this study, the
partner that identifies as feminine is the would be the partner that utilizes
verbal communication and the partner that defines as male would be the one that
would use non-verbal communication or avoidance.

Quantitative Framework

     The reliability and framework of this
article stated that men and women were affected equally in roles of
heterosexual, gay, and lesbian relationships, but this did not come without
limitations. Some can argue that due to the study only using college students,
it left out many other social factors that could hinder the trustworthiness of
this study.  As it has been founded
through additional research social economic status, ethnicity, and culture can
play important parts on how individuals received and internalize barriers and
self-identification. Research has shown that not only do contextual variables
(such as ethnicity, race, and social class) explain significant amounts of
variance above and beyond gender effects, but that dichotomous cultural
differences can override gender effects found within a single culture (North
America & China; Sprecher & Toro-Morn, 2002). For these reasons, this
study should be re-created with a broader sampling group. Also with other
designed categories defined in the scope of the qualitative methodology model.
Yet, this authors study did support this study by validating and offering
additional resources to support that stereotypes indeed reflect those of the
larger culture, but nonetheless polarize behavioral expectations in women and
men, feeding restrictive and minimally overlapping gender roles in romantic
relationships. Feminist psychologists have often asserted that when these
stereotyped gender differences do exist, they do so according to
misperceptions, prejudices, gender-role conformity (LaFrance & Banaji 1992;
Unger 1998), social conditioning, modeling, and reinforcements (Chrisler &
Smith 2004) rather than because of innate biological underpinnings, as Buss and
Schmitt’s (1993) theory suggests.

Literature Review Two

Knudson-Martin, C.,
Huenergardt, D., Lafontant, K., Bishop, L., Schaepper, J., & Wells, M.
(2015). Competencies for addressing gender and power in couple therapy: A socio
emotional approach. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41(2), 205-220. doi:


     Knudson-Martin, Huenergardt, Lafontant,
Bishop, Schaepper, and Wells (2015), address the power
struggle in couples as it pertains to gender. This connection supported that
there are communication barriers in couples when roles are not properly defined
as the gender-role dynamics. These above authors performed a study that identified
7 clinical competencies. The competencies complied a quantitative framework
that outlined specific ways to review couples social, emotional, and conceptual
relationship stressor pertaining gender-role identification.

     This study supports that all couples are
affected by the struggles of structural personal identity and process,
emotional and power content, strains in mutual support, and influences by
social, emotional, and environmental elements. This action research project
design combines a diverse 8-10 man/woman group of MFT professionals, licensed,
newly licensed, and senior students, to work with a population of 7 men and 18
women (Knudson-Martin, 2015). The cultural demographics of the
participants were 14 persons of color, 10 persons that immigrated to the US or
international, and 1 person of unknown descent. After the participant selection
process the selected individuals were placed in divided into 3 phases that were
designed using the Socio-emotional Relationship Therapy process (Knudson-Martin, 2015). All data collection was self-reported and filtered for analyses.
This data allowed the participants to transferred to the appropriate phases
throughout the study. This data also allowed structural developments for the
therapist in the field participating in the study. As all consents were given, there
was a low risk rate for the human subjects, but the framework of the study
allowed additional support if needed. There were also no ethical concerns
stated in this study.

Reliability and Validity

     This above study by the above authors,
began a new concept of trying to balance the art of Marriage and Family therapy
with the gender definitions and how they affect the unit as a whole. It has
been recognized as a foundational guideline in the errors and improvements that
can be made in assisting those that are served pertaining to gender roles and
the power of it in couples and families, but there is much more to learn and
more work that needs to be done to allow the caps in care to be closed. This
concept planted the seed for need of additional and continuous on-going studies
in this area, which allowed the growth of my study.

Literature Review Three

Zaatari, Z. (2014).
Desirable masculinity/femininity and nostalgia of the “anti-modern”: Bab
el-Hara television series as a site of production. Sexuality & Culture,19,
16-36.  doi: 10.0007/s12119-014-9242-5.


     Zaatari (2015), observed a local
television series in Syria called Babel Hara. This series discussed a
“antimodern” approach to the concepts of masculinity and femininity in this
cultural society. The approach harvests on the past notions that male is
superior and masculine and woman at not. The promotion of this concepts in this
culture impetrates the stressors of role identification in couples. Zaatari
(2015), argues that the impact of this series could set this nation or culture
back decades and the promotion of the woman serving the men will embed
inferiority between the sexes. It can also address question of the presented
study, that ask what happens if in the couple’s dynamic partners are of same
sex or the woman is the head of the household? This is how the stressors can be
over take a nation and as professionals in field, we must educate and train
with additional studies on how to assist the population.

Literature Review Four

Van Anders (2013).
Beyond masculinity: Testosterone, gender/sex, and human social behavior in a
comparative context. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 34, 198-210.


     Van Anders (2013), connects some of the above
concepts with acknowledging that there is a social behavior concept associated
with gender role identification. This concepts states that high testosterone
equals masculinity and decreased testosterone increases femininity (Anders,
2013), but yet scientist have identified that there are males with low testosterone
that identify as males or female. Also, that there are females that have a high
testosterone level and identify as female or male. This scientific support
allows the explanation and understanding needed when understanding society and
gender identification stressors.

Literature Review Five

Hirokawa, K. &
Yagi, A. (2004). An examination of masculinity-femininity traits and their
relationships to communication skills and stress-coping skills. Social Behavior
and Personality, 32(8), 731-740.


     With the above factor, Hirakawa, Yagi, and
Miyata (2004), studied a population for social stressor copying skills and
communication skills. These authors added androgynous, undifferentiated, and
midmost to the roles of masculine and feminine to measure stressors and
communication development amongst couples that are forces to gender role
identify in the Japanese culture. These roles held no place in the outcomes of
this study. The study outcomes supported that even with the subgroupings, those
that were of a more feminine nature scored high with emotional stressors and
were more open or forceful with communication skills that those the measured
out to be masculine.


Literature Review Six

Young, D.M.,
Moss-Racusin, C.A., & Sanchez, D. T. (2014). Implicit agency, communality,
and perceptual congruence in couples: Implications for relationship health.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 55, 133-138.


     Young, Moss-Racusin, and Sanchez (2014),
stand fast in the notion that relationship and couples health are affected the
other person. This study supported the concept that relationship help and
individual health in the relationship can be altered or determined by the
gender role identification of those in the couple. In fact, these authors argue
and support that the more submissive an individual is
in a relationship, the poorer their health would be and the more
controlling an individual is in a relationship, the better their health would
be. These out comes applied to those in heterosexual and same-sex
relationships, but it varied from male to female. Women health as a whole can
be more complex than males and for those women that hold either gender
identified roles, there help would worsen either way.

Review Seven

Thomeer, M. B., Reczeck, C., &
Umberson, D. (2015). Relationship dynamics around depression in gay and lesbian
couples. Social Science & Medicine, 147, 38-46.


     To support the above article, Thomeer, Reczek,
and Umberson, stated that the LGBT community needed additional research on
mental health and partner support. This study indicated that unlike
heterosexual couples, same sex couples shared partner support no matter which
partner struggles. Yet, as this seemed like the perfect promotion of mental
heath success, it is not. In same sex partners, there are other elements that
may affect the reception of the support. These elements can be perceived as
over support and can hinder the mental health success of the individual or the
couple as well.

Literature Review Eight

Reczek, C. & Umberson (2012). Gender,
health behavior, and intimate relationships: Lesbian, gay, and straight
contexts. Social Science & Medicine, 74, 1783-1790.


     Reczek and Umberson (2012), supports the
fact that the women in heterosexual relationships have the worst health. This
is because they have to care for themselves, their husbands. Same sex couples
again either have a detrimental effect on each other or a porting effect on each
other, no matter the gender role identified.


     Some potential limitations with presented
sampling could be the lack of social economic review and small differences,
such as lifestyle and genetic factors. These elements can have direct effects
on how survey questions are received and answered. This can also evoke
different overall views of specific communication styles, role clarification,
work or occupational design, health, and support (Thomeer, Reczeck, &
Umberson, D. (2015); Reczeck & Umberson (2015). To attempt to avoid as many
of these potentials limitations as possible, the PI and other assisting in the
development of the study may have to add additional survey questions,
demographic questionnaires, cultural specific questions, and re-sculpture the
categories for the survey.


     A strength of this study is that it utilized
the quantitative methodology. This methodology provides additional room for
flexibility and pragmatic adaptation as the study evolves (Befring, 2015). An
additional strength of this study is that it can form, as stated above, a
foundational exploration into the future of couple dynamics and gender role
factors. It would also allow act as a guide for those in the field that may not
be cultural competent to address situations in gay/lesbian relationships. The
field of Marriage and Family therapy builds on continuous education of its
therapist and also building families. This study produces tools that can
education, eliminate stereotypes and prejudices, and connect all families. The
challenges would be the buy in of the profession and the constant fight to
eliminate preset gender role biases.

      As I have examined the design of this
study, there are some limitations that have surfaced. One would be that the
small sampling of only 50 couples, might not represent the majority of the
studied population. Another limitation would be the questionnaire designed to
measure the couple’s attitude towards the use of communication. As they may
give useful information about the impacts of communicative strategies, they may
not provide enough evidence of the couple’s actual behavior or interpretation
of the communication skills in their relationship.  This is the same with the measurements of the
other variables as well.


     Some of the most important concerns
ethically when it comes to the quantitative data collection methods are the
ability to maintain the confidentiality of participant materials, acquire all
necessary informed consents, and make sure that accurate and validated data has
been obtained for the study. Some additional concerns with the informed consent
would be what pertinent information is needed, when it is needed, and to which
participants to give the information to. This concerns carries into question
design as well. When asking or establishing the questions, you have to focus on
the problem and the established variables. This will guide the interviewer to
build questions that are appropriate and relative to the study.

     Another ethical concern would be what
safety precautions are established to address if participants get upset or
retriggered during the questionnaire or interview process. These behaviors may
need a safety plan developed and additional training for the PI and any
additional interviewers. As we cannot predict what will happen in or during a
study, support systems have to be in place to ensure that there is no harm to
the participants. To ensure that this takes place, confidentiality must be
maintained, disclosure must be given, appropriate actions must take place when
there is a report of any abuse to the elderly or children, and if there are any
questions during the study that may leave room of question consult the approval
organization, a direct supervisor, and document all actions, conversation, and
conversations as stated.