Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Think it's easy to be macho? Psychologists show how 'precarious' manhood is

Date:
May 3, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Manhood is a "precarious" status -- difficult to earn and easy to lose. And when it's threatened, men see aggression as a good way to hold onto it, according to new research.

Manhood is a "precarious" status -- difficult to earn and easy to lose. And when it's threatened, men see aggression as a good way to hold onto it. These are the conclusions of a new article by University of South Florida psychologists Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello. The paper is published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Related Articles


"Gender is social," says, Bosson. "Men know this. They are powerfully concerned about how they appear in other people's eyes." And the more concerned they are, the more they will suffer psychologically when their manhood feels violated. Gender role violation can be a big thing, like losing a job, or a little thing, like being asked to braid hair in a laboratory.

In several studies, Bosson and her colleagues used that task to force men to behave in a "feminine" manner, and recorded what happened. In one study, some men braided hair; others did the more masculine -- or gender-neutral -- task of braiding rope. Given the options afterwards of punching a bag or doing a puzzle, the hair-braiders overwhelmingly chose the former. When one group of men braided hair and others did not, and all punched the bag, the hair-braiders punched harder. When they all braided hair and only some got to punch, the non-punchers evinced more anxiety on a subsequent test.

Aggression, write the authors, is a "manhood-restoring tactic."

When men use this tactic, or consider it, they tend to feel they were compelled by outside forces to do so. Bosson and her colleagues gave men and women a mock police report, in which either a man or a woman hit someone of their own sex after that person taunted them, insulting their manhood (or womanhood). Why did the person get violent? When the protagonist was a woman, both sexes attributed the act to character traits, such as immaturity; the women also said this about the male aggressors. But when the aggressor was a man, the men mostly believed he was provoked; humiliation forced him to defend his manhood.

Interestingly, people tend to feel manhood is defined by achievements, not biology. Womanhood, on the other hand, is seen primarily as a biological state. So manhood can be "lost" through social transgressions, whereas womanhood is "lost" only by physical changes, such as menopause.

Who judges manhood so stringently? "Women are not the main punishers of gender role violations," says Bosson. Other men are.

Bosson says that this area of research gives psychological evidence to sociological and political theories calling gender a social, not a biological, phenomenon. And it begins to demonstrate the negative effects of gender on men -- depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or violence.

The work has also changed Bosson personally. "When I was younger I felt annoyed by my male friends who would refuse to hold a pocketbook or say whether they thought another man was attractive. I thought it was a personal shortcoming that they were so anxious about their manhood. Now I feel much more sympathy for men."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. K. Bosson, J. A. Vandello. Precarious Manhood and Its Links to Action and Aggression. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (2): 82 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411402669

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Think it's easy to be macho? Psychologists show how 'precarious' manhood is." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132905.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, May 3). Think it's easy to be macho? Psychologists show how 'precarious' manhood is. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132905.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Think it's easy to be macho? Psychologists show how 'precarious' manhood is." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132905.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Things You Didn't Know About Depression

5 Things You Didn't Know About Depression

Odyssey Networks (Nov. 21, 2014) According to a new survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 60% of Americans with a diagnosed mental illness believe their condition worsens around the holidays. Stress, high expectations and loneliness are contributing factors that contribute to the "holiday blues." Video provided by Odyssey
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.

Save/Print:
Share:

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



Save/Print:
Share:

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