Masculine Gender Role and Midlife Transition in Men

  • Richard M. Eisler
  • Kim Ragsdale
Part of the Perspectives in Developmental Psychology book series (PDPS)


Most studies of the human lifespan have focused on infancy, childhood, adolescence, and old age. The potential for developmental changes in adulthood has remained relatively uncharted. An exception to the relative absence of developmental perspective on adulthood has been the attention given to the midlife period. The object of study during midadulthood has typically been American men. From various theoretical perspectives, the middle adult years for men have been described as a time of reappraisal and inevitable turmoil, which has sometimes been called the midlife crisis. Whether the midlife period for men typically results in problems of sufficient intensity to label them a crisis has been difficult to document empirically.


Work Role Emotional Expressiveness Cardiovascular Reactivity Middle Adulthood Empty Nest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antonucci, T. C., & Akiyama, H. (1987). An examination of sex differences in social support among older men and women. Sex Roles, 17, 737–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atchley, R. C. (1980). The social forces in later life. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  3. Balswick, J. O. (1982). Male inexpressiveness: Psychological and social aspects. In K. Solomon & N. B. Levy (Eds.), Men in transition: Theory and therapy (pp. 131–150). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balswick, J., & Peek C. (1971). The inexpressive male: A tragedy of American society. Family Coordinator, 20, 363–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brim, Q (1976). Theories of the male mid-life crisis. The Counseling Psychologist, 6, 2–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell, A. (1980). A sense of well-being in America. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  7. Cicirelli, V G. (1981). Helping elderly parents: The role of adult children. Boston: Auburn House.Google Scholar
  8. Clausen, J. A. (1976). Glimpses into the social world of middle age. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 7, 99–106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cleary, P D. (1987). Gender differences in stress-related disorders. In L. Biener & G. K. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 39–74). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. Collin, A. (1979). Mid-life crisis and its implications in counseling. British Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 7, 144–152.Google Scholar
  11. David, D. S., & Brannon, R. (1976). The forty-nine percent majority: The male sex role. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  12. Eisler, R. M., & Skidmore, J. R. (1987). Masculine gender role stress: Scale development and component factors in the appraisal of stressful situations. Behavior Modification, 22, 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eisler, R. M., Skidmore, J. R., & Ward, C. H. (1988). Masculine gender-role stress: Predictor of anger, anxiety and health-risk behaviors. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 133–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erikson, E. H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle: Selected papers. Psychological Issues Monograph No. 1. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  15. Erikson, E. H., & Erikson, J. M. (1981). On generativity and identity. Harvard Education Review, 51, 240–278.Google Scholar
  16. Fasteau, M. F. (1974). The male machine. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Friedman, M., & Rosenman, R. (1974). Type A behavior and your heart. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett.Google Scholar
  18. George, L. (1982). Models of transitions in middle and later life. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 464, 22–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Golan, N. (1986). The perilous bridge: Helping clients through mid-life transitions. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  20. Goldberg, H. (1977). The hazards of being male. New York: New American Library.Google Scholar
  21. Gould, R. L. (1972). The phases of adult life: A study in development psychology. American Journal of Psychiatry, 129, 33–43.Google Scholar
  22. Gould, R. (1975). Living through the mid-life crisis. Psychology Today, 8, 39–57.Google Scholar
  23. Gould, R. (1978). Transformations. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  24. Griffitt, W. (1981). Sexual intimacy in aging marital partners. In R. Fogel, E. Hatfield, S. Kiesler, & E. Shanas (Eds.), Aging: Stability and change in the family (pp. 301–315). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gutman, D. (1976). Individual adaptation in the middle years: Developmental issues in the masculine mid-life crisis. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 9, 41–59.Google Scholar
  26. Harris, L. (1976). The myth and reality of again in America. Washington: National Council on Aging.Google Scholar
  27. Henry, W. E. (1961). Conflict, age, and the executive. Business Topics, 9, 15–25.Google Scholar
  28. Jacques, E. (1965). Death and the mid-life crisis. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 46, 502–514.Google Scholar
  29. Jourard, S. (1971). The transparent self. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  30. Kelley, H. H. (1981). Marriage relationships and aging. In R. Fogel, E. Hatfield, S. Kiesler, & E. Shanas (Eds.), Aging: Stability and change in the family (pp. 275–300). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kohlberg, L. (1973). Stages and aging in moral development: Some speculations. Gerontologist, 13, 497–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lash, S. J., Eisler, R. M., & Shulman, R. S. (1990). Cardiovascular reactivity to stress in men: Effects of masculine gender role stress appraisal and masculine performance challenge. Behavior Modification, 14, 3–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lerner, R. M. (1986). Concepts and theories of human development. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  34. Levinson, D. J. (1977). The mid-life transition: A period in adult psychosocial development. Psychiatry, 40, 99–112.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Levinson, D. J., Darrow, C. M., Klein, E. B., Levinson, M. H., & McKee, B. (1978). The seasons of a man’s life. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  36. Lewis, R. A. (1978). Emotional intimacy among men. Journal of Social Issues, 34, 108–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lewis, R. A., Freneau, P. J., & Roberts, C. L. (1979). Fathers and the postparental transition. Family Coordinator, 28, 514–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lowenthal, M. F. (1967). Aging and mental disorder in San Francisco. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Lowenthal, M. F. (1977). Toward a sociological theory of change in adulthood and old age. In J. E. Biven & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of aging (pp. 116–127). New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  40. Lowenthal, M. F., & Chiriboga, D. (1972). Transition to the empty nest: Crisis, challenge, or relief? Archives of General Psychiatry, 26, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lowenthal, M. F., Thurnher, M., & Chiriboga, D. (1975). Four stages of life: A comparative study of men and women facing transitions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  42. Lowenthal, M. F., & Weiss, L. (1976). Intimacy and crises in adulthood. The Counseling Psychologist, 6, 10–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Maccoby, E., & Jacklin, C. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Mancini, J. A., & Blieszner, R. (1985). Return of middle-aged children to the parental home. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 19, 192–194.Google Scholar
  45. Masters, W. H., & Johnson, V E. (1970). Human sexual inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  46. McGill, M. E. (1980). The 40 to 60 year old male. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  47. Moulton, R. (1980). Divorce in the middle years: The lonely woman and the reluctant man. Journal of The American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 8, 235–250.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Murphy, P. P., & Burck, H. D. (1976). Career development of men at mid-life. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 9, 337–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nadelson, C. C., Polonsky, D. C., & Mathews, M. A. (1978). Marital stress and symptom formation in mid-life. Psychiatric Opinion, 15, 29–33.Google Scholar
  50. Nathanson, C. A. (1977). Sex roles as variables in preventive health behavior. Journal of Community Health, 3, 142–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Neugarten, B. L. (1968). Middle age and aging: A reader in social psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  52. Neugarten, B. L. (1976). Adaptations and the life cycle. The Counseling Psychologist, 6, 16–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. O’Neil, J. M. (1982). Gender-role conflict and strain in men’s lives: Implications for psychiatrists, psychologists, and other human-service providers. In K. Solomon & N. B. Levy (Eds.), Men in transition: Theory and therapy (pp. 5–44). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Price, V. A. (1982). Type A behavior pattern: A model for practice. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rosenberg, S. D., & Farrell, M. P. (1976). Identity and crisis in middle aged men. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 7, 153–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schultz, R., & Ewen, R. B. (1988). Physiological aspects of aging. In R. Schultz & R. B. Ewen (Eds.), Adult development and aging: Myths and emerging realities (pp. 51–83). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  57. Shanas, E. (1980). Older people and their families. The new pioneers. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sherman, E. (1987). Meaning in mid-life transitions. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  59. Skidmore, J. R., Eisler, R. M., Blalock, J. A., & Sikkema, K. J. (1988, March). Cardiovascular reactivity in men as a function of masculine gender-role stress. Paper presented at the 19th annual meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs.Google Scholar
  60. Sofer, C. (1970). Men in mid-career: A study of British managers and technical specialists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Solomon, K. (1982). The masculine gender role: Description. In K. Solomon, & N. B. Levy (Eds.), Men in transition: Theory and therapy (pp. 45–76). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Troll, L. E. (1971). The family of later life: A decade review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 33, 163–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vaillant, G. E. (1977). Adaptation to life. New York: Little, Brown.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Eisler
    • 1
  • Kim Ragsdale
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations