Andrew Smiler, Ph.D.

America's leading expert on the masculine self

Validity of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Index Abstract

Andrew Smiler

The Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI) was published by Jim Mahalik and his students (Boston College).  In this study, I looked at some of the statistical properties of the scale.

Why?  When someone publishes a scale, they need to demonstrate that the scale “works” (i.e., is “valid” or demonstrates “validity”).  When we’re doing science properly, someone else also checks out the scale’s properties.

Who?  The study included 688 men and women, age 18-83.  There were about as many men as women in the study.

I split the participants into 4 age groups and then separated each of those groups into men and women.  The age groups were “traditional undergrads” (age 18-23 and in college), others were 18-29, 30-49, and 50-83.  For the men, there were 142 undergrads and 60-70 in each other group.  For the women, there were 200 undergrads.

What were the findings?  The CMNI measures 11 different aspects of masculinity.  For every age group, men had higher scores than women on almost every aspect of masculinity.  The primary exceptions were for status and importance of work (think “breadwinning”).  The findings also indicated that older men placed less value on risk-taking, status, violence, and winning than undergrads (and in some cases, 18-29 year olds), and that older men placed more value on controlling their emotions.

So what?  The big thing here is that the CMNI appears to be valid, at least with this mostly White sample.

There’s another important finding here: people of different ages “do” masculinity differently.  Because all of the data were collected at the same time (actually, over 3 months, but that’s really all at the same time), it’s hard to know if this is about getting older or being born at different times.  The data were collected in 2002, so the undergrads were born in 1979-1983; the 30-49 year olds are baby boomers (birth years 1952-1971).