Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore

Thesis Committee Member

Angela S. Jacobs

Thesis Committee Member

Tanya M. Willard


The primary purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if there was a relationship between the conformity to social gender norms (masculine and feminine) and depression among male and female college students at a mid-sized, four-year public institution in the Midwest. A secondary purpose was to investigate if there was a difference in depression between males and females, and if a there was a difference in conformity to social gender norms (masculine and feminine) between males and females. Understanding the trends in social norm conformity and depression can lead to changes in how faculty and staff in higher education view and decide on the engagement activities provided to students. Participants were 289 college students from a four-year public institution in the Midwest, who responded to a survey in the Spring 2021 semester. Instruments included the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory – 46 (CMNI-46), Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory – 45 (CMFI-45), and the Beck Depression Inventory – II (BDI-II). Results suggest that the Self-Reliance, Emotional Control, Thinness, Modesty, and Invest in Appearance subscales, have a direct correlation with depression, and the Heterosexual Self-Presentation, Relational, and Domestic subscales, have an indirect correlation with depression.