Gender identity and risk for depression

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

R. Jay Turner - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Dale D. Chitwood - Committee Member


This dissertation examined the role and significance of gender identity in the well-established link between sex and depression using a representative, community sample from Toronto, Canada. Gender identity is broadly defined as individual self-perceptions of "masculinity" and "femininity" based on the meanings that are associated with being a man or woman in the context of the larger society.The specific aims of this research project were to (1) observe and describe how masculinity and femininity are distributed across social statuses; (2) determine the extent to which measures of masculinity and femininity make unique contributions to the prediction of depression; (3) determine if masculinity and femininity contribute toward explaining sex differences in depression; and (4) explore the possibility that the association of gender identity with depression, as measured by masculinity and femininity, differs for men and women.This research revealed that masculinity and femininity made significant and unique contributions in explaining sex differences in depression and jointly accounted for nearly half of the sex-depression relationship. While these findings show that femininity makes a significant contribution to the prediction of depression when personal resources and social support are considered, masculinity does not. And finally, these results confirm that the relationship between gender identity and depression is different for men and women. When masculinity is considered in the context of only demographic controls, it offers protection with respect to depression for both men and women. Femininity, however, while irrelevant for men, is shown to be a significant risk factor for women.


Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, General

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