A new study confirms that when men feel their masculinity is being questioned, they’ll often try to compensate by both rejecting anything considered “feminine” and exaggerating their “manliness” in other ways:The study found that male college students who were given falsely low results on a handgrip strength test exaggerated their height by three-quarters of an inch on average, reported having more romantic relationships, claimed to be more aggressive and athletic, and showed less interest in stereotypically feminine consumer products. By contrast, men who received average score results, and whose masculinity was therefore not threatened, did not exaggerate those characteristics. The findings, researchers say, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity.

The researchers note that while women may display a similar dynamic when it comes to femininity, in general, the anxiety about not meeting gendered expectations is likely more severe among men since gender norms have expanded more for women — as the study puts it, “masculinity is more easily threatened than femininity.”

Source and rest: feministing

The study’s abstract:

The current paper investigates two basic strategies that men use to recover from masculinity threats: (i) avoiding stereotypically feminine preferences and (ii) exaggerating their masculinity. In two experiments, males were either given false feedback that threatened their masculinity (i.e., underperforming on a masculinity test in Study 1, being physically weak in Study 2) or told they were average for their gender (control). Males who had their masculinity threatened expressed lower preference for stereotypically feminine products but did not express greater preference for stereotypically masculine products (Studies 1 and 2). Additionally, threatened men claimed more stereotypically masculine attributes, such as height, number of past sexual relationships, and aggressiveness (Study 2). These findings provide insight into how people react to identity threats by deploying specific strategies that most effectively restore their questioned identities.

Reference: Cheryan, S., Cameron, J., Katagiri, Z. and Monin, B. (2015). Manning Up. Threatened Men Compensate by Disavowing Feminine Preferences and Embracing Masculine Attributes. Social Psychology, pp.1-10. (link.)

Other notable findings:

Though the study focused exclusively on men, Cheryan noted that women also feel pressure to live up to gender ideals of femininity, such as being people-focused and nurturing. If women believe they are falling short of those expectations, Cheryan said, they might make choices with potentially negative consequences to demonstrate that they fit gender norms — for example, avoiding classes in traditionally male fields such as science and technology.

[…] The findings might seem amusing, but other studies have found that men compensate for a lack of masculinity in ways that aren’t as innocuous. Men with baby faces, for example, were more likely to have assertive and hostile personalities and commit crimes than their more chiseled counterparts. Men who were told they scored low on masculinity tests were more likely to act aggressively, harass women and belittle other men.

Additionally, unemployed men were more likely to instigate violence against women, and men who were not their household’s primary breadwinner were less willing to share in housework duties.

Source: washington.edu.

(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)

Study shows how men overcompensate when their masculinity is questioned