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Sex Differences in Ego Functioning: Exploratory Studies of Agency and Communion USPHS

Carlson, Rae
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
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Subject/Key Words:
United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Behavior Theories, Literature Reviews, Personality Studies, Self Concept, Sex Differences


Theoretical formulations of Gutmann and of Baker were tested in three studies of sex differences in personality. In Study 1, males were significantly more individualistic, objective, and distant in representations of self, others, space, and future. Study 2 found males predominantly "agentic" and females "communal" in reports of significant emotional experiences. In Study 3, seven general predictions from the agency-communion formulation were tested against 200 abstracts of published research on sex differences. The formulation was judged "relevant" to over 80 percent of the studies; significant differences were "confirming" of the formulation in 97 percent of "relevant" studies. Results indicate the importance of qualitative aspects of sex differences in personality and support the agency-communion formulation as a framework for future inquiry.

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