The relationship of sex roles and social competence to divorce adjustment



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Texas Tech University


Divorce may be seen as a family crisis requiring change in many areas of life for all family members involved. Resolution of this crisis may require the acquisition of new skills, new behaviors, and new information.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of sex role identity, sex role attitudes, and social competence to divorce adjustment. This is the first study to look at the impact of masculinity and femininity on adjustment to marital dissolution, and it was hypothesized that androgynous persons would adjust more successfully than sex-typed persons. In addition, it was hypothesized that there would be a positive relationship between adjustment and more liberal sex role attitudes, and between adjustment and social competence. Based on the results of preliminary analyses, a scale assessing social support was substituted for the measure of social competence. A secondary purpose of this study was to obtain information on a newly developed scale of single identity.

The findings indicated that social support was one of the strongest predictors of successful adjustment to marital dissolution. Sex role identity was found to be more indicative of adjustment for females than for males. Androgynous females were significantly better adjusted than were sex-typed females, but there were no significant differences in divorce adjustment between androgynous and sex-typed males. Considering masculinity and femininity scores rather than sex-role categories, masculinity scores were more predictive of successful adjustment for both genders than were femininity scores. More liberal sex role attitudes were significantly related to adjustment in simple correlational analyses, but were not an important predictor of adjustment in regression analyses.

The Read Single Identity Scale was found to have an adequate internal consistency with this sample. The conceptual components of single identity were supported by factor analysis which revealed four major factors: (a) Personal and Vocational Coping, (b) Single Parenting, (c) Detachment from Former Spouse, and (d) Social Coping. Single identity correlated strongly with successful adjustment to divorce and with social support. Masculinity scores were strongly correlated with single identity for both genders, but femininity was correlated with single identity for females only.