Men who feel they are short of “macho” traits and worry that others view them in the same light as well are also prone to committing violent crimes like real masculine men, a study shows.
How men perceive traditional male gender norms and masculinity can affect their behaviour.
In general, highly masculine men are more likely to engage in stereotypical male behaviours such as risk taking, substance misuse, and acts of aggression, say the researchers.
But they wanted to find out if “male discrepancy stress” – men who see themselves as not only falling short of traditional masculine gender norms but who also worry that others view them in this light as well – had any impact on these behaviours.
The team analysed the responses of 600 US men about their perceptions of male gender and how their own self-image fitted in with this and risky behaviours.
The results showed that men who considered themselves less masculine than average and who experienced “male discrepancy stress” were more likely to say they had committed violent assaults with a weapon as well as assaults resulting in injury to the victim than those who didn’t feel highly masculine but who didn’t worry about it.
There was no association between discrepancy stress and average daily use of alcohol or drugs.
But men who felt less masculine and who were not worried about it were the least likely to report violence or driving while under the influence.
“This may suggest that substance use and abuse behaviours are less salient methods of demonstrating traditional masculinity in contrast to behaviours related to sex and violence, perhaps due to the potentially private nature of the habit,” suggested the researchers in a paper published online in the journal Injury Prevention.
“While highly masculine men are at high risk of violence, less masculine men who experience discrepancy stress may be equally at risk,” the team concluded.