Sexism may also have a detrimental effect on the mental
health of those who embrace such attitudes, revealed a new study.
The findings published by the
American Psychological Association suggest that men who see themselves as playboys or as having power over women are
more likely to have psychological problems than men who conform less to
traditionally masculine norms, revealed a research.
‘Conforming to masculine norms was associated with negative mental health outcomes. The association was most consistent for - self-reliance, pursuit of playboy behavior, and power over women.’
"In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms
tended to have poorer mental health and less favorable attitudes toward
seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on
specific types of masculine norms," said lead author Y. Joel Wong of Indiana University Bloomington. The study was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology
Wong and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 78 research
samples involving 19,453 participants that focused on the relationship
between mental health and conformity to 11 norms generally considered by
experts to reflect society's expectations of traditional masculinity:
- desire to win
- need for emotional control
- playboy (sexual promiscuity)
- primacy of work (importance placed on one's job)
- power over women
- disdain for homosexuality
- pursuit of status
Specifically, they focused on three broad types of mental health
outcomes: negative mental health (e.g., depression), positive mental
health (e.g., life satisfaction), and psychological help seeking (e.g.,
seeking counseling services).
While most of the U.S.-based studies focused on predominantly white
males, some focused predominantly on African-Americans and some on
While overall, conforming to masculine norms was associated with
negative mental health outcomes in subjects, the researchers found the
association to be most consistent for these three norms - self-reliance,
pursuit of playboy behavior, and power over women.
"The masculine norms of playboy and power over women are the norms
most closely associated with sexist attitudes," said Wong. "The robust
association between conformity to these two norms and negative mental
health-related outcomes underscores the idea that sexism is not merely a
social injustice, but may also have a detrimental effect on the mental
health of those who embrace such attitudes."
Even more concerning, said Wong, was that men who strongly conformed
to masculine norms were not only more likely to have poor mental health
but also also less likely to seek mental health treatment.
There was one dimension for which the researchers were unable to find any significant effects.
"Primacy of work was not significantly associated with any of the
mental health-related outcomes," said Wong. "Perhaps this is a
reflection of the complexity of work and its implications for
well-being. An excessive focus on work can be harmful to one's health
and interpersonal relationships, but work is also a source of meaning
for many individuals."
Also, conformity to the masculine norm of risk-taking was
significantly associated with both negative and positive mental health
outcomes, suggesting that risk-taking can have both positive and
negative psychological consequences, said Wong.