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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Sep-Oct;59(2):257-63. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2014.05.012. Epub 2014 Jun 6.

The validity of the 12-item Bem Sex Role Inventory in older Spanish population: an examination of the androgyny model.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
School of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Québec, Canada.


The Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) is the most commonly used and validated gender role measurement tool across countries and age groups. However, it has been rarely validated in older adults and sporadically used in aging and health studies. Perceived gender role is a crucial part of a person's identity and an established determinant of health. Androgyny model suggests that those with high levels of both masculinity and femininity (androgynous) are more adaptive and hence have better health. Our objectives were to explore the validity of BSRI in an older Spanish population, to compare different standard methods of measuring gender roles, and to examine their impact on health indicators. The BSRI and health indicator questions were completed by 120 community-dwelling adults aged 65+ living in Aragon, Spain. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to examine psychometric properties of the BSRI. Androgyny was measured by three approaches: geometric mean, t-ratio, and traditional four-gender groups classification. Relationships between health indicators and gender roles were explored. Factor analysis resulted in two-factor solution consistent with the original masculine and feminine items with high loadings and good reliability. There were no associations between biological sex and gender roles. Different gender role measurement approaches classified participants differently into gender role groups. Overall, androgyny was associated with better mobility and physical and mental health. The traditional four groups approach showed higher compatibility with the androgyny model and was better able to disentangle the differential impact of gender roles on health.


Androgyny model; Bem Sex Role Inventory; Factor analysis; Gender roles; Older adults; Validation

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