The effects of masculine gender role stress appraisal and gender relevance of the task on stress arousal in a competitive situation

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Virginia Tech

In our society, gender role stereotypes define the areas in which men are thought to excel. Recent research has focused on the male gender role and how it effects the psychological and physical health of men. Maintaining an acceptable level of masculinity may be deleterious to men's physical and/or psychological health. Success in competition is a broad dimension of the male role which has repeatedly been shown to be of great importance to men. Men who are strongly committed to the stereotypical masculine role can be differentiated from men who are not committed to the masculine role by the Masculine Gender Role Stress (MGRS) rating scale (Eisler' Skidmore, 1987). The MGRS scale was developed based on the Lazarus , Folkman (1984) transactional model of stress, appraisal and coping. Men that score high on the MGRS scale are likely to identify more with the stereotypical, masculine role and are likely to appraise competitive situations as .ore stressful than low MGRS .en. Likewise, high MGRS men are more likely to feel more threatened when outperformed by a female than low MGRS men. Furthermore, high MGRS .en should appraise masculine-relevant situations as more challenging to than low MGRS men.

High and low MGRS men were placed in a competitive situation against a female in which the gender relevance (masculine or feminine) of the competitive stressor was varied. Those in the Basculine relevant (RR) condition were lead to believe that men outperformed women on the competitive task while men in the feminine relevant (FR) condition were told that women outperformed men on the task. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of MGRS appraisal and the gender relevance of the competitive stressor on men's cardiovascular, emotional and cognitive responding throughout the process of a competition. This study examined the physiological and self-report responding of the following 4 groups: 1) High MGRS men in a MR relevant situation, 2) High MGRS men in a FR situation, 3) Low MGRS men in a MR situation and 4) Low MGRS men in a FR situation. These 4 groups were compared on physiological (systolic blood pressure, SBP; diastolic blood pressure, DBP; and heart rate, HR) and self-report measures of stress and anger. Subjects also rated their opponent before and after the competition on a measure of masculinity and fem