Psychological Androgyny: A Concept in Search of Lesser Substance. Towards the Understanding of the Transformation of a Social Representation
The term 'androgyny' has been given a variety of meanings, in psychology as well as in popular thinking. This paper aims at distinguishing the most important meanings of this term, and at showing that scientific and lay conceptions of what is or should be an androgynous person share many features, but less and less so. It then elaborates on this striking similarity between scientific and lay psychology by demonstrating that: (a) Three conceptions of androgyny have prevailed over the time; (b) This evolution has been prompted by a need to counteract the objectification of the androgynous individual into the sexually ambiguous individual; (c) The inaugural conception of psychological androgyny was concerned with the content of the androgynous personality, whereas a marked cognitive orientation characterized later conceptions; (d) As a consequence, the concept of psychological androgyny has evolved towards lesser substance. Presently, this concept has succeeded in departing from lay representations of the sexually ambiguous individual, but it has lost its anchoring in the social group. This evolution of the concept of psychological androgyny is discussed in light of the process of objectification propounded by the theory of social representations.
Wiley, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 26(2), pp. 137-155