Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Men Overcompensate When Masculinity Is Threatened

August 3, 2005
Cornell University
Threaten a man's masculinity, and his attitudes will become more macho, according to a study by Robb Willer, a Cornell Ph.D. candidate in sociology. Willer will present his research at the American Sociological Association meeting Aug. 15 in Philadelphia.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Threaten a man's masculinity, and he will assumemore macho attitudes, according to a study by a Cornell Universityresearcher.

Related Articles

"I found that if you made men more insecure about theirmasculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended tosupport the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUVover another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, a sociology doctoralcandidate at Cornell. Willer is presenting his findings Aug. 15 at theAmerican Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting inPhiladelphia.

"Masculine overcompensation is the idea that men who areinsecure about their masculinity will behave in an extremely masculineway as compensation. I wanted to test this idea and also explorewhether overcompensation could help explain some attitudes like supportfor war and animosity to homosexuals," Willer said.

Willer administered a gender identity survey to a sample ofmale and female Cornell undergraduates in the fall of 2004.Participants were randomly assigned to receive feedback that theirresponses indicated either a masculine or a feminine identity. Whilewomen's responses were unchanged regardless of the feedback theyreceived, men's reactions "were strongly affected by this feedback,"Willer said.

"Masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling moreashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men,"states Willer's report, "Overdoing Gender: Testing the MasculineOvercompensation Thesis."

"The masculine overcompensation thesis has its roots inFreudian psychology, but it has become a popularly accepted idea that Ifelt should be empirically tested and evaluated," Willer said.

He questioned subjects about their political attitudes,including how they felt about a same-sex marriage ban and their supportfor President Bush's handling of the Iraq war.

"I created composites from subjects' answers to these and otherquestions," he said. "I also gave subjects a car-buying vignette,presented as part of a study of purchasing a new car."

Masculinity-threatened participants also showed more interestin buying an SUV. "There were no increases for other types of cars,"Willer said.

The study produced "the predicted results," he said. "Theintention of the study was to explore whether masculineovercompensation exists and where. But the point isn't to suggest theseare the only factors that can explain these behaviors. Likewise, theremay be a wide variety of other behaviors that could increase when menare concerned about their levels of masculinity."

In a separate study, Willer verified that support for the IraqWar, homophobia and interest in purchasing an SUV were all consideredmasculine by study participants.

Willer said he and a colleague are planning additional researchon subjects' attitudes regarding violence toward women, using the samemethod for manipulating masculine insecurity.

"I'm planning another follow-up to the study that involvestaking testosterone samples from participants to see if testosteronelevels are a mediating factor in this process," he added.

The research involved 111 Cornell undergraduates and was funded by the Department of Sociology at Cornell.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Men Overcompensate When Masculinity Is Threatened." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803064454.htm>.
Cornell University. (2005, August 3). Men Overcompensate When Masculinity Is Threatened. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803064454.htm
Cornell University. "Men Overcompensate When Masculinity Is Threatened." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803064454.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This

More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins