Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Psych Files - Episode 87: Manhood: Are You A “Real Man”?

This is an interesting discussion of some recent papers on the precarious nature of masculinity.

Episode 87: Manhood: Are You A “Real Man”?

Why does it seem that males in many cultures have to "prove" their manhood? Do women have to prove their womanhood? Why is this and what happens when men feel like they are less than a man? In this review of a recent research article entitled, "Precarious Manhood", we take a look at this intriguing issue.

  • Authors: Vandello, J.A., Bosson, J.K., Cohen, D., Burnaford, R.M. & Weaver, J.R. (2008). Precarious Manhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95 (6), 1325–1339.
  • Here is the homepage for Joseph Vandello (University of Southern Florida).
  • Abstract: The authors report 5 studies that demonstrate that manhood, in contrast to womanhood, is seen as a precarious state requiring continual social proof and validation. Because of this precariousness, they argue that men feel especially threatened by challenges to their masculinity. Certain male-typed behaviors, such as physical aggression, may result from this anxiety. Studies 1–3 document a robust belief in (a) the precarious nature of manhood relative to womanhood and (b) the idea that manhood is defined more by social proof than by biological markers. Study 4 demonstrates that when the precarious nature of manhood is made salient through feedback indicating gender-atypical performance, men experience heightened feelings of threat, whereas similar negative gender feedback has no effect on women. Study 5 suggests that threatening manhood (but not womanhood) activates physically aggressive thoughts.
  • Thanks to Matt Selznick who is working with me to revamp The Psych Files website.
  • In case you’re interested in the movie I mentioned in this episode here it is in Amazon: The Indian in the Cupboard

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