Sex vs gender identity

Sex differences in mental toughness have been investigated but gender identity and its association with mental toughness is yet to be examined. It is interesting to investigate the concepts of both gender identity and sex differences in relation to mental toughness to gain a better understanding of the differences in adolescents' mental toughness. As mental toughness is reported to be a multidimensional and dynamic construct (Harmison, 2011), and influenced by an individual's environment (Bull, Shambrook, James & Brooks, 2005), it is reasonable to posit that environmentally shaped sex stereotypes as opposed to biological differences, may influence the development of this important cognitive strength construct.

In order to understand why boys report higher levels of mental toughness than girls it is important to understand which psychological factors could explain this difference in self-perceived mental toughness. An alternative approach towards understanding the differential levels of mental toughness between boys and girls may be sociological (sexrole concept). Sex-role concept refers to a set of shared beliefs that a society holds about the characteristics appropriate for individuals on the basis of their sex.

Experimental case study on sex differences, gender identity, and mental toughness

Research in sex differences in mental toughness is scant and does not address the relationship between sex, gender identity, and mental toughness. This study had two aims: to investigate the association of sex and gender identity on mental toughness in adolescents: to examine whether gender identity predicted anything over and above sex.


In order to examine the role of sex and gender identity in self-reported mental toughness 309 adolescents (160 female, 149 male; aged between eleven and sixteen) completed questionnaires measuring their mental toughness and gender identity (i.e., the extent to which they identified with masculine and feminine traits). The students completed the MTQ48 (Clough, Earle & Sewell, 2002) to measure mental toughness and the CSRI (The Childrens' Sex Role Inventory, Boldizar, 1991) to assess gender identity.

Mental toughness: MTQ48 (Clough, Earle & Sewell, 2002)

Students were also asked to complete the Mental Toughness Questionnaire (MTQ48: Clough, Earle & Sewell, 2002). This is comprised of forty-eight items assessing six dimensions of mental toughness: challenge, commitment, control of emotions, control of life, confidence in abilities, and confidence in personal life. Challenge is defined as the extent to which individuals view problems as opportunities for selfdevelopment. Commitment reflects a deep involvement in whatever the individual is doing. Control is subdivided into two dimensions, emotional control and control of life; emotional control is the ability to keep anxieties in check and not reveal emotions to others; life control concerns a belief in being influential and not controlled by others. Confidence is also subdivided into two dimensions, confidence in abilities and interpersonal confidence. Confidence in abilities reflects the belief in individual qualities with less dependence on external support and interpersonal confidence is about being assertive and less likely to be intimidated in social events. For each item the student's agree/disagree with a series of statements on a five-point Likert-type scale (ranging from “I disagree strongly” to “I agree strongly”). A score is calculated for each of the mental toughness constructs by totalling the responses on the appropriate items.

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