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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

McLean, Kate C.

Second Advisor

Czopp, Alex

Third Advisor

Trimble, Joseph E.


The current study builds upon existing work that defines master narratives (McLean & Syed, 2016), and explores master narratives relating to gender (McLean, Syed, & Shucard, 2016). The specific question addressed in this thesis is, how does one’s sociocultural context relate to the individual process of identity construction, in the domain of gender identity? I examined biographical master narratives, or those that describe cultural expectations for a life course, in the context of gender identity. I used narrative and survey methodologies to describe the American biographical master narratives for men and women, and whether and how individuals deviate from these narratives. I examined how these deviations are incorporated into one’s identity and if these deviations are related to psychological distress. Men and women reported similar expected life courses. Gender differences emerged for the importance of selected life events and the content of narratives describing either deviation from or conformity to cultural expectations relating to gender. As hypothesized, elaboration of an alternative narrative was associated with the presence of self-event connections and identity exploration. Not as hypothesized, elaboration of an alternative narrative was not associated with psychological distress. These findings have implications for both the cultural expectations for men and women within America and the processes by which men and women construct their identities in context of these expectations, as well as broader implications for the study of gender identity.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Gender identity--Psychological aspects; Culture--Psychological aspects




masters theses




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