Publication Date

Summer 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Howard T. Tokunaga


Attitudes, Gender, Gender Adherence, Gender Identity, Mental Illness, Sex Identity

Subject Areas

Gender studies; Psychology; Social psychology


Attitudes toward persons with a mental illness consist of four main dimensions: Authoritarianism, benevolence, social restrictiveness, and community mental health ideology. Attitude differences on these dimensions have been found among many types of groups, including age, race, and educational attainment. Sex and gender adherence have been cited as other such factors, but two major issues are present: past researchers have reported inconsistent findings regarding attitude differences and the terms are used interchangeably in research literature despite conceptual differences. Using data from 187 individuals from a survey, the current study tested sex differences and gender adherence differences in attitude toward mental illness independent of each other; incremental effects of gender adherence beyond sex and sex beyond gender adherence were also tested. Results showed no sex differences on all dimension of attitudes, suggesting that sex is not related to attitudes toward persons with a mental illness. Gender adherence differences were found to a limited extent: participants who adhered to feminine gender reported more benevolence than did participants who adhered to no gender. No other gender adherence differences were found. No incremental effects of sex were present above and beyond the effects of gender adherence; however, there was a significant incremental effect of gender adherence above and beyond the effect of sex, but only for the benevolence dimension, suggesting that gender adherence is a better predictor of benevolent attitudes than is sex.