‘The influence of gender norms on psychological well-being’
Keulen, N.T.G. van
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In both Europe and the United States, there is a trend to gender equality in values and attitudes about family life. It is important to look at the possible consequences of this shift in society’s gender norms for psychological well-being, so one can anticipate on the implications of this association. The research question of this paper is: ‘To what extent is there an association between one’s psychological well-being and the traditionalism of one’s gender norms?’ It is expected that people with traditional gender norms have a lower psychological well-being because they have less chance of exploration of the self and feel more pressure to adhere to these norms. The second hypothesis is that people who’s gender norms are not confirmed in their behaviour (i.e. norm-congruent experiences) have a lower psychological well-being than people who do have matching norms and behaviour. Using data from the 2008/10 Netherlands Longitudinal Lifecourse Study (NELLS) survey a series of simple and multiple regression models have tested these hypotheses. A central finding is that there is a significant association between gender norms and well-being for women. Women with more traditional gender norms had a significant higher well-being than men. The moderating effect of norm-congruent experiences based on gender norms and the division of household labour was not significant. This implicates that both hypotheses must be rejected. However there was found that when unemployed women’s norms match their behaviour (i.e. being unemployed with traditional norms), they have a significant higher well-being than unemployed women who experienced incongruence (i.e. egalitarian norms and unemployment). This is in support of the second hypothesis, but only for unemployed women.