Gender role definitions treated as an interacting expectational set among married couples

In order to further the study of gender roles as an interacting set, the gender role expectations of 82 married CSUN students and their spouses were examined in terms of the interaction of husband-wife expectations at three hypothesized levels of definition. Using a model whereby the gender roles are described as defining one another through the mutually-reinforced expectations of those enacting the roles in long-term relationships, the couples’ expectations on the general-societal, the marital role-specific, and the personality trait levels were examined to discern: (1) whether indications of a state of incongruity could be found, revealed by significant inconsistencies in marital partners’ expectations; (2) whether this hypothesized state of incongruity operated differently at the different levels of definition, and; (3) the effects of six contextual factors on the consistency of couples’ expectations. These six factors were: Wife’s and spouses’ mothers’ employment, couples’ shared education levels, ages, and ages at marriage, and the presence of children in the home. The major conclusion reached was that the complexity of the interaction between the two gender roles makes their study difficult. However, significant differences in couples’ expectations which could not be accounted for by length of marriage were found, which appeared to support the hypothesis that incongruity existed. In addition, there were indications that this incongruity may be operating such that the level of general-societal expectations is more effected than the level of marital role expectations, although the personality-based level’s position appeared unclear. Examinations for the effects of the six contextual factors appeared inconclusive, although some implications for future research were found.