Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

JoNell Strough

Committee Co-Chair

Kristina Hash

Committee Member

Julie Hicks Patrick

Committee Member

Kevin Larkin

Committee Member

Nicholas Turiano


"Women get sicker, men die quicker," is a statement used to describe how women suffer from more chronic health conditions, greater physical limitations, and report poorer health compared to men (Crimmins, Kim, & Sole -Auro, 2011; Lochner & Cox, 2010), whereas men have a shorter life expectancy compared to women (CDC, 2013). Although biological sex differences offer some explanation for why men and women differ in health and mortality, there is much left unexplained (Miller, 2014). Gender, a psychosocial construct that reflects attitudes, feelings, and behaviors prescribed by cultural expectations for men and women (Unger, 1979) has been highlighted as an important, yet understudied construct, that can influence sex differences in health (Courtenay, 2000; Evans, Frank, Oliffe, & Gregory, 2011). The current study applied a multidimensional approach that tested how gender-typed traits (e.g., masculine and feminine traits) and behaviors (e.g., interdependence and health behaviors) related to three health outcomes (i.e., perceived health, physical functioning, and chronic health burden). The sample was comprised of 486 middle-aged and older adults (40-79 years old; Mage = 55.57; 54.5% female) recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk Program and the community (i.e., via social media). Findings indicated that although there were no main sex differences in health outcomes, gender-typed traits were differentially associated with behaviors (e.g., social support, health-risk behaviors) that are known to impact health. For example, men and women who reported greater endorsement of masculine traits reported significantly greater health-promoting behaviors, greater social support, less interdependent problem solving, and greater health-risk behaviors. Men and women who reported greater endorsement of feminine traits reported significantly greater health-promoting behaviors, greater social support, greater interdependent problem solving, and fewer health-risk behaviors. The findings provide a new perspective for understanding how gender may influence behaviors, which in turn can lead to varying health consequences.