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


Book cover for Men's Gender Role Conflict: Psychological Costs, Consequences, and an Agenda for ChangeBy James M. O’Neil, PhD

Publisher: American Psychological Association
Item #:4318128
List Price:$79.95
Member/Affiliate Price:$49.95
Publication Date: November 2014
Format: Hardcover

Examine or adopt this book for teaching a course

FREE Shipping

Men’s gender role conflict (GRC) is a psychological state in which restrictive definitions of masculinity limit men’s well-being and human potential. GRC is a problem for boys and men, girls and women, transgendered people, and society at large. It is related to numerous problems, such as sexism,
violence, homophobia, depression, and substance abuse. Combining over 30 years of research in men’s psychology and the author’s own experience in conceptualizing GRC, this book promotes activism and challenges the status quo, calling on researchers and clinicians to confront GRC and reduce its harmful effects.

James O’Neil is a pioneer in men’s psychology who conceptualized GRC and created the Gender Role Conflict Scale. In this book, he combines numerous studies from renowned scholars in men’s psychology with more than 30 years of his own clinical and research experience to promote activism and challenge the status quo.

He describes multiple effects of men’s GRC, including

  • success, power, and competition issues;
  • restricted emotionality;
  • restricted affectionate behavior between men; and
  • conflicts between men’s work and family relations.

O’Neil also explains when GRC can develop in a man’s gender role journey, how to address it through preventative programs and therapy for boys and men, and what initiatives researchers and clinicians can pursue.

Table of Contents



I. An Overview of Gender Role Conflict and Its History

  1. A Call to Action to Expand the Psychology of Men
  2. My Personal Gender Role Journey With the Gender Role Conflict Research Program

II. The Theoretical Foundations of Gender Role Conflict

  1. New Contextual Paradigms for Gender Role Conflict Theory, Research, and Practice
  2. Scale Development and Measurement in the Gender Role Conflict Research Program
  3. A Developmental Model of Masculinity: Gender Role Transitions and Men’s Psychosocial Growth

III. Empirical Research on Gender Role Conflict in Boys and Men

  1. A Multicultural Psychology of Men Model: Reviewing Research on Diverse Men’s Gender Role Conflict
  2. Summary of the Gender Role Conflict Research Program
  3. Four Contextual Paradigms for Gender Role Conflict Research

IV. Practical Applications for Gender Role Conflict in Therapy and Preventative Programs

  1. Therapeutic Assessment of Gender Role Conflict in Counseling and Psychotherapy
  2. Gender Role Journey Therapy With Men
  3. Using Gender Role Journey Therapy: The Case Study of Thomas
  4. Theoretical and Empirical Justification for Psychoeducational Programming for Boys and Men
  5. Prevention of Gender Role Conflict Using Psychoeducation: Three Evaluated Interventions

V. A Call to Action: Future Directions in Addressing Men’s Gender Role Conflict

  1. Call to Action Revisited: Personal Reflections, Contextual Summary, and Action Plans



About the Author

James M. O’Neil, PhD, is a professor of educational psychology and family studies in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut as well as a licensed psychologist in private practice in South Windsor, Connecticut. In 1975, he received his doctorate from the Department of Counseling and Personnel Services at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) in Divisions 17, 35, 43, 51, 52, and 56. He is one of the founding members of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (APA Division 51) and was named Researcher of the Year in 1997 for his 20-year research program on men’s gender role conflict. Dr. O’Neil’s research programs relate to men and masculinity, gender role conflict, the psychology of men and women, and violence and victimization. He has published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, and his most recent book, coauthored with Michele Harway, What Causes Men’s Violence Against Women? (1999), has been translated into Japanese and Korean. In 1991, he was awarded a Fulbright Teaching Scholarship by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, to lecture in the former Soviet Union. In 1995, he was awarded Teaching Fellow status, the most prestigious distinction for a professor at the University of Connecticut, for his outstanding excellence and dedication to the university teaching. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Professional Service Award from APA Division 51 for his 25-year research program on men’s gender role conflict and his advocacy for teaching the psychology of men in the United States. He has advocated for professional activism with gender role and social justice issues throughout his 40 years as a counseling psychologist.


What Others Are Saying About Men’s Gender Role Conflict: Psychological Costs, Consequences, and an Agenda for Change:

In the midst of popular claims about a war on masculinity, this book brings a balanced and nuanced perspective to the ways in which men’s gender role conflict can restrict the lives of both men and women and offers a practical and positive call to action that is grounded in 35 years of theory and research. This engaging and comprehensive volume mirrors themes that permeate feminist, multicultural, and gay affirmative scholarship and weaves together narrative and case study material with in-depth reviews of theory and research. It offers evidence-based approaches for transcending gender-related problems through prevention, research, activism, and psychotherapy. This volume is an invaluable resource for researchers, psychotherapists, social activists, students, and prevention specialists.

Carolyn Zerbe Enns, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology, Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA


A deeply thoughtful book, by a scholar with both rigor and heart. O’Neil is a true revolutionary scholar whose work on gender role conflict over the past four decades culminates in this profound volume.  Recommended to anyone seeking an understanding of the lives of boys and men.

Puncky P. Heppner, PhD, Distinguished Curator’s Professor, and Mary J. Heppner, PhD, Professor, Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia


Jim O’Neil’s work over four decades has revealed that our cultural definitions of masculinity are incoherent, inconsistent, internally contradictory and thus the source of stress, anxiety and other psychological torments. Here, he empirically documents the psychological costs of gender role conflict and offers a blueprint for a new coherent definition of masculinity—one that more closely confirms with the lived realities of American men.

Michael Kimmel, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, Department of Sociology, Stony Brook


Click here to return to all books.