Men who think they are playboys have more mental health problems, new research finds.
Dr Y. Joel Wong, the study’s lead author, said:
“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.”
The results come from studies on almost 20,000 people on traditional views of masculinity.
The view tested attitudes linked (by some) to masculinity, including:
- Sexual promiscuity,
- desire to win,
- dislike of homosexuality and many more.
People who espoused masculine norms were more likely to be depressed and have low life satisfaction.
Three norms of masculine behaviour were particularly strongly associated with poor mental health:
- Playboy behaviour
- Power over women
Dr Wong said:
“The masculine norms of playboy and power over women are the norms most closely associated with sexist attitudes.
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.”
Men who conformed to masculine stereotypes were also less likely to seek treatment for mental health problems, the researchers found.
Giving a high priority to work, though, was not linked to mental health, Dr Wong explained, despite it being part of the masculine ethos:
“Primacy of work was not significantly associated with any of the mental health-related outcomes.
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.”
The study was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (Wong et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Masculine image from Shutterstock