Changes in sex-role stereotypes from health to illness

Mary T. Westbrook*, Reg A. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The personality characteristics of the average healthy and the average sick male or female were rated on the Bem Sex Role Inventory [1] by 112 health professionals and 112 non-helath professionals, half of whom were males and half females. Scores for masculinity, femininity, degree of sex typing (own sex minus opposite sex traits) and social desirability for healthy and sick males and females were analysed using 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 factorial analyses of variance. When ill, both sexes were perceived as having less masculine and less feminine characteristics buty the relativelygreater loss of masculinity by males resulted in men being perceived as less sex-typed. The sex-typing of women did not alter with illness, supporting the hypothesis that men suffer a loss of sexual identity when ill. The sick were perceived as having less socially desirable traits than the healthy. Compared to other groups, female health professionals showed a bias against both healthy and ill males by attributing less socially desirable traits to them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Science and Medicine. Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1979
Externally publishedYes


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