Men's Gender Role Conflict: Psychological Costs, Consequences, and an Agenda for Change


The purpose of this web page is to make the gender role conflict research program more available to researchers via the Internet. Over the past 35 years, requests for information about the Gender Role Conflict Scale (O'Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986; O'Neil, Good, Holmes, 1995) has increased significantly. In the past, my contacts with researchers have been primarily through the mail and by phone, fax and e-mail both in the United States and abroad. I usually send a research packet of information to colleagues including the Gender Role Conflict Scale’s psychometrics, important reprints, and reference lists of published and unpublished studies. Now much of this information is found here on this research web page.

Over 350 studies have used the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS) and another 30 are currently in progress. One hundred and sixty-five empirical studies using the GRCS have been published in the psychological literature. Over 209 dissertations or master theses have used the scale. Over 179 empirical papers have been presented at the annual APA convention meetings. Seventy three studies have been completed outside the United States. The GRCS has been used in 32 different countries and translated into 20 languages.

The research completed indicates that men's gender role conflict is associated with a host of salient psychological variables that affect both men's and women's lives. This web page presents these studies so that researchers can rapidly access the database and create their own research or interventions. This web page serves as a more comprehensive and efficient way to make the gender role conflict research program available to others

Part of my responsibility as a psychologist and researcher has been to summarize the men's gender role conflict database for students and colleagues who want to do future research. Summarizing the expanding database and making it directly available to others has been time consuming and challenging. More importantly, the process has been stimulating, exciting, and enjoyable as the new studies are completed and creative researchers develop new areas on men’s gender role conflict.

The primary purpose of this web page is to organize the gender role conflict research program in one place, so that researchers can have instant access to the theory and data base on men's gender role conflict. This web page provides over 500 references to gender role conflict and the 24 web files allowing researchers to review past studies in efficient ways. The overall goal of this gender role conflict research web page is to help researchers develop future research on gender role conflict and advance the psychology of men, men's studies, Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (SPSMM, Division 51 of the American Psychological Associations). (Click here for SPSMM home page).

Background of Gender Role Conflict Research Program: (1978–2015)

The research program began with a series of theoretical papers developed in the late 1970’s and published in early 1980's (O'Neil, 1981a, 1981b, 1982). These papers operationally defined gender role conflict and hypothesized six patterns. The six patterns of gender role conflict were hypothesized to be: 1) restrictive emotionality, 2) health care problems, 3) obsession with achievement and success, 4) restrictive sexual and affectionate behavior, 5) socialized control, power, and competition issues, and 6) homophobia. These six patterns of gender role conflict were hypothesized as conceptually related to men's gender role socialization, the Masculine Mystique and Value System, and men's fear of femininity. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that these patterns were related to personal and institutional sexism in the larger society. The initial conceptualization of these ideas can be viewed in Figure 1 (Click here to observe Figure 1).

My research team and I thought that this initial theoretical conceptualization could be empirically tested. We developed the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS) to measure the six patterns of gender role conflict. Using factor analysis and other statistical procedures, we were able to provide initial construct validity for four patterns of gender role conflict (O'Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986). These four patterns include: 1) Success, Power, and Competition (SPC), 2) Restrictive Emotionality (RE), 3) Restrictive Sexual and Affectionate Behavior Between Men (RABBM), and 4) Conflict Between Work and Family Relations (CBWFR). Table 1 shows these four patterns (Click here to observe the empirically derived patterns of men's gender role conflict).

Many researchers have studied the factor structure of the GRCS. Twenty-two separate factor analyses have been completed on the GRCS. Factor analysis of the GRCS on American college students has consistently shown the scale to have factorial and construct validity (Braverman, 1990; Englar-Carlson & Vandiver, 2002; Gale, 1999; Good et al., 1995; Kratzner, 2003; Moradi et al., 2000; O’Neil et al., 1986; Rogers, et al., 1997; Rogers, Rando, et al., 1997). Overall, the factor intercorrelation have been found to be moderate with scale intercorrelations ranging from .35 to .68 (Moradi et al., 2000). This implies that the factors are related to each other but are separate entities.

Heppner (1995) critiqued the GRCS and argued that "Additional examination of the factor structure across diverse samples and cultures offers a great deal of potential for increasing the understanding of the universality of gender role conflict as well as for stimulating theory development about human nature in general" (p.21). Since Heppner’s critique, the GRCS has been factor analyzed for diversity of men living in the United States and in six other countries. The GRCS has been factor analyzed with male samples from Austrailia, Korea, Japan, Germany, and Indonesia. The GRCS has also been factor analyzed for a mixed sample of American non-ethnic and ethnic men (Hispanic, African American, and Asian American, Pytluk & Casas, 1998), gay men (Simonsen, Blazina, Watkins, 1998), airline pilots (Chamberlin, 1993) women (Borthick, Knox, Taylor, & Dietrich, 1997), women’s perceptions of men’s GRC (Rochlen & Mahalik, 2004), adult men (Lontz, 1999), and adolescent boys (Blazina, Pisecco, & O’Neil, 2005). Eight studies have used confirmatory factor analysis in verifying the four factor structure (Englar-Carlson & Vandiver, 2002; Faria, 2000; Good et al. 1995; Hernandez, Sanchez, Liu, 2006; Kratzner, 2003; Moradi at al., 2000; Rogers et al., 1997; Wester, Pionke, & Vogel, 2005).

In all these studies, researchers have found a similar factor structure to the original study (O’Neil, et al., 1986). The variance explained across 22 studies was between 32% to 52%. In some of these studies there was not a perfect replication of the original factor analysis and minor changes and differences were found in the factors. In all cases the researchers found the psychometric qualities of the GRCS acceptable for use with their special population

In 1995, we published a major review of the first wave of gender role conflict studies (O'Neil, Good, Holmes, 1995). In that review, we proposed a comprehensive research paradigm to test future variables related to gender role conflict. This research paradigm included the following areas: 1) demographic and classification variables, 2) personality or attitudinal variables, 3) counseling process and outcome variables, 4) psychological or physical health variables. This paradigm includes over 70 research variables that could be tested with the four empirically derived patterns of men's gender role conflict. This research paradigm is shown in Table 3 (Click here to observe the research paradigm of past and future variables related to men's gender role conflict).

Why is A Men’s Gender Role Conflict Web Page Needed?

There are a number of reasons to compile this empirical summary of research on men’s gender role conflict. First, there has been a lack of empirical research summaries on men’s psychological problems in psychology. Few summaries, if any, have been compiled from large-scale empirical research programs over extended periods of time. The previous summaries of GRC that do exist (O’Neil, Good, & Holmes, 1995; O’Neil & Good, 1997; Good & Wallace, & Borst, 1994) have not included a large number of studies. Therefore, this web page makes a focused summary of many studies over a 35-year period on men’s gender role conflict.

Second, this kind of summary is needed because empirical evidence has not confirmed that men’s psychological problems relate to conflicts with socialized gender roles. Problems have been hypothesized for men who internalize restrictive notion of masculinity and femininity during their gender role socialization. Single empirical studies have been published on gender role conflict. No comprehensive summary of many gender role conflict studies currently exists.

A third reason why empirical research summaries on men gender role conflict are needed is because the factors causing gender role conflict are not very well known. Social scientists have described men’s problems theoretically, but research has not explained the etiology of men’s problems as it relates to gender role socialization. Little is known about how men’s gender roles relate to depression, anxieties, violence, suicidal behavior, poor health care, homophobia and heterosexism, academic underachievement, bullying, racial and ethnic oppression, and dysfunctional relations with women, men, and children. These problems are significant mental health issues that negatively affect the quality of people’s lives and the overall soul of our society. Hopefully, the web page will facilitate greater understanding of the causes of men’s gender role conflict.

Furthermore, summaries of the gender role conflict database are needed to significantly shape future research on men. What has been lacking are integrative research summaries that delineate future research directions and priorities. Direction is needed on how to design more complex and useful studies in the coming decades. New ideas, better and more expansive measures, and creative perspectives men’s and women’s gender role conflict are needed. This web page challenges others to improve the gender role conflict construct through future research, therapeutic interventions with men and women, and through preventive programming.

Development In The Gender Role Conflict Research Program In May, 2008

Before the publishing the book (O'Neil, 2015, See above) the most recent development with the GRC Research Program was the manuscript "Summarizing twenty-five years of research using the Gender Role Conflict Scale: New research paradigms and clinical implications" as a special issue of The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 358-445. The abstract is found below.

This article reviews 231 empirical studies that used the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS; O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, Wrightsman, 1986) over the last twenty-five years (1982- 2007). The article introduces the gender role conflict construct using past definitions and theoretical models. The research findings for diverse men are summarized and studies related to men’s intrapersonal, interpersonal, and therapeutic lives are analyzed. The empirical support, the criticism, and challenges to the gender role conflict research program are reviewed. A contextual research paradigm with seven domains is presented and 18 research questions and two research models are discussed to foster more moderation and mediation studies on men’s GRC. A new diagnostic schema to assess men’s GRC in therapy and during psychoeducational interventions is discussed. The research review concludes that GRC is significantly related to men’s psychological and interpersonal problems and therefore an important construct for psychologists and other helping professionals.

What Is In New in the Book: Men's Gender Role Conflict: Psychological Costs, Consequences, and an Agenda For Change (O'Neil, 2015)?

Currently Being Developed

Orientation to the Gender Role Conflict Research Program Web Page

There are over 700 references and 30 informational files on this web page related to men's gender role conflict. They include the following seven overall sections:

1.     Orientation to the GRC Construct

2.     Published Research Studies & Critiques

3.     APA Symposia, Theoretical Papers, and an Empirical Summary

4.     Clinical, Therapeutic, and Programmatic Aspects of GRC

5.     Psychometrics, Future Hypotheses, & New Contextual Research Models

6.     Dependent Variables & Who has used  the GRCS Previously

7.     Receiving the GRCS, The Gender Role Journey Measure (GRJM) & Teaching the Psychology of Men

Each of the overall sections are listed below and the specific files will be defined for easy access:

1.      Orientation to the GRC Construct:

Introduction– This is the file that you are reading now and gives an overview of the entire web page and how to locate specific information.

Recent Journal Publications andf Dissertations– This file gives you the most recently published studies and dissertations that have used the Gender Role Conflict Scale. This file is important to researchers who want to know the recent trends and future directions of  research on men’s GRC.

Background and History of the GRC Construct- This file represents my memories of how the GRC research program started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Operational Definition of Gender Role Conflict and GRCS -
In this file is an operational definition of gender roles conflict and brief description of the GRCS.

2.     Published Research Studies & Critiques:

Published Journal Manuscripts that Used the GRCS Since 1984 - This file lists the published empirical research that has used the GRCS.

Ph.D. Dissertations and Master Theses Completed Using the GRCS since 1985 - All the Ph.D. and M.A. theses and dissertations are found in this file according to Dissertation Abstract citations.

Empirical Research Presented at the Annual American Psychological Association Convention and Other Conventions since 1982 - This file lists the empirical research presented at the American Psychological Association in symposia or during poster sessions

International Studies Using the GRCS – This file provides a summary of the GRC studies completed outside the United States.

Published Critiques of the Gender Role Conflict Scale - This file provides numerous published reviews and critiques of the GRCS.

3.     APA Symposia on GRC, Theoretical Papers & Empirical Summaries:

Symposia and Theory Papers Presented at the American Psychological Association Convention Since 1980 - This file lists all the Gender Role Conflict Symposia and other theory papers presented at the American Psychological Association since 1980.

Published Theoretical Manuscripts Published on Gender Role Conflict -
Published theoretical statements about gender role conflict are found in this file

Summary of Masculinity Ideology Studies and GRC Research – This file summarizes the many studies completed on masculinity ideology and GRC from the 10 most popular masculinity measuresin terms of men’s psychological and interpersonal problems.

Publications in SPSMM Bulletin, vol. 3, 1997 - This file contains an article that I wrote with Dr. Glenn Good of the University of Missouri – Columbia summarizing the research that had been implemented from 1994 to 1997 on a variety of emerging topics.

4.     Clinical, Therapeutic, and Programmatic Aspects of GRC:

Clinically Applied Papers- Published manuscripts that clarify how to use the GRC clinically in therapy, in a psychoeducational format, and through preventive programming are listed here.

Three Diagnostic Schemas to Assess GRC– This files depicts and describes three published diagnostics schemas to use when assessing men’s GRC in therapy.

GRC and College Student Development Paradigm – This file shows a model that theoretically connects college men’s GRC with student development theory and the need for more active programming on college and university campuses.

5.     Psychometrics, Future Hypotheses, & New Contextual Research Models:

Factor Structure of the GRCS - This file provides basic information on the factor structure of the GRCS, the mean factor loadings, the reliabilties of the factors and variance explained from the original factor analysis (O’Neil et al., 1986).

Internal Consistency Reliabilities Data - This file provides internal consistency reliabilities for the GRCS factor structure across numerous samples.

Internal Consistency Reliabilties of GRCS for 20 Diverse Samples - This file is similar to File 14 but includes reliabilities for more diverse sample related to race, age, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, and other variables and sample types.

Convergent and Divergent Validity Data on GRCS and Masculinity Ideology and other Constructs - This file presents intercorrelational data on how the GRCS correlates with 10 other masculinity ideology measures or other scales, thereby establishing both convergent and divergent validity of the GRCS.

Normative Gender Role Conflict Scale Data on Diverse Men: Tables 1-12  - This file will be useful for researchers who want to know normative data (means) on the GRCS factors. There are 12 tables that present normative data for the following groups: white college students, white adult men, therapy clients, African American college students and adults, Hispanic/Latino college students, Asian American college students, older, middle aged gay men, older/retired men, adolescent boys, international men from 11 different countries, and college women. Table 12 provides an overall summary of the normative data.

Future GRC Hypotheses and Contextual Research Models– This file enumerates future contextual areas of research for men’s GRC. Specific contextual areas of research are discussed, hypotheses are specified, and two new contextual research models are depicted to  foster more moderator and mediation studies.

6.     Dependent Variables & Who Has Used  the GRCS Previously:

Classification of Factors and Constructs - This may be the most valuable file for those creating new research. All the previous research is listed by 11 topical categories. Within these 11 categories is an alphabetical listing of over 150 independent or dependent variables used in the previous gender role conflict research. There is also a listing by author and date across these 180 categories. The 11 categories include: 1) Demographic and Classification Variables, 2) Personality Variables, 3) Psychological and Physical Health Variables, 4) Interpersonal Behavior & Attitudes, 5) Relationships and Family Relations, 6) Violence, Abuse, Sexual Aggression, Hostility Toward Women and others, 7) Other Gender Related Concepts, 8) Gender Role Conflict and Feelings About Self, 9) Behaviors and Gender Role Conflict, 10) Therapists' Gender Role Conflict, the Therapy Process, and Supervision, 11) How does Gender Role Conflict Affect Others? Researchers doing literature reviews will find this file very useful in finding studies on specific topics. After finding the author(s) and date of the study, you will then need to peruse the published manuscripts, dissertations, and convention papers in files 2-7 above to find the specific references.

Authors, Samples, Measures With 200 GRC Studies - This is a valuable file for researchers reviewing the past gender role conflict research in greater depth. The file has a listing of all GRC studies, the authors and dates, the samples used, the measures/scales employed in the research. This file can help researchers quickly review the studies as they prepare their own research. The listing of measures can help future researchers find measures used in the previous research. The file can also help locate the different samples used with the GRCS.

Institutions Where the GRCS Has Been Used -  This file provides a listing of the 25 international universities/institutes and over 100 American universities and colleges where research on men’s gender role conflict has been conducted.

International Researchers’ Names and Addresses Who Have Used the GRCS - This file lists the names and addresses of the international researchers if you want to network with international research community.

7.     Receiving the GRCS, The Gender Role Journey Measure (GRJM)

       & Teaching the Psychology of Men:

How to Receive the GRCS - This file provides instructions on how to get the GRCS through the email

Manuscripts on the Gender Role Journey (GRJM) and Construct - This file includes published manuscripts on the gender role journey construct and the Gender Role Journey Measure (GRJM; O’Neil, Egan, Owen, Murry, 1993)

Resources for Teaching the Psychology of Men- This section of the web page gives a rationale for teaching the psychology of men and describes a workshop presented at the APA conventions in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) about the critical issues that need to be addressed to advance teaching the psychology of men. Also there is a link to my Men's course taught at the University of Connecticut

Final Thoughts

I hope this orientation to the web page will be useful to those of you who are planning research studies or needing documentation on men's gender role conflict. I want to thank hundreds of friends, colleagues, researcher and their mentors for the many contributions to this research database. I take credit for starting this research program, but the success of the gender role conflict research program belongs to the many graduate students and researchers who conducted the research over the last 35 years. I want to thank each and every person who believed that we could assess men’s gender role conflict through the Gender Role Conflict Scale.

There is still much more work to be done, both theoretically and empirically, in understanding men's gender role conflict. In many ways, we have only just begun! I invite you to join in this important research effort as we continue to develop an empirical base in Men's Studies and the psychology of men. Please let me know if I can assist you in any way! My email address is: James.O’

Topics & Number of GRC Studies Using the Gender Role Conflict Scale

From O’Neil et al., 1986

File Topic Number of Publications on Each GRC Topic
Total Number of Studies Using the GRCS 585
Published Journal Studies Using GRCS (1984-2023) 263
Dissertations Completed on GRC (1988-2023) 322
Critiques of GRC Theory & Research 24
Published GRC Research Models 5
Summary Publications of GRC Empirical Research 7
Gender Role Conflict Theory 14
Gender Role Journey Measure & Theory 14
Diversity, Intersectionality, and Multicultural Studies
Identities: Racial, Ethnic, Sexual, Gender, Religious, & Political 22
African American Men 29
Hispanic American Men 15
Asian American Men 10
Mixed Race Studies 6
White Caucasian, American Men 373
International Men (Outside the United States) 130
Published Journal Publications/Papers 51
Dissertations 61
Presented at APA Conventions 18
Gay Men (published studies) 24
Gay Men (dissertations) 19
Bisexual Men 4
Transgendered Men/Women 2
Woman’s Gender Role Conflict 17
Age Differences 8
Therapy, Clients, Therapists, Counselor/Psychologist Training (journal publications) 49
Therapy, Clients, Therapists, Counselor/Psychologist Training (dissertations) 23
Psychoeducation Interventions with GRC 16
Evaluated Psychoeducational Programs with GRC 21
Health, Violence, Discrimination
Health & Medical Issues 19
Nursing & Medical Practice 9
Cancer 7
Sexuality 11
Substance Use and Abuse 23
Violence and Abuse 34
Suicide & Self-Destructiveness 10
Trauma and PTSD 5
Internalized Homophobia, Heterosexism, Homonegativity, & Anti-Gay Attitudes 13
Stigma 18
Gendered & Perceived Racism: Discrimination and Oppression 10
Coping 11
Special Topics
Men’s Relations with Women, Children, & Family 10
Career Development and Work 15
Muscularity & Body Image 7
Psychodynamics 4
Spiritual Wellbeing, Religious Orientation, & Fundamentalism 10
Special Groups
Adolescent Boys and High School Students 24
Police Officers, Fire Fighters 6
Homeless and Incarcerated Men 8
Athletes, Athletic Identity, Sports 9
Fathers-Sons -Fathering 24
Sex Offenders 3
Couples Interaction/Dynamics 8
Older Men 14
Military Men & Veterans 7