Men overcompensate for masculinity threats

Aug. 2, 2005 at 9:48 PM
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ITHACA, N.Y., Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A Cornell University researcher says he has determined men will assume much more macho attitudes when they believe their masculinity is being threatened.

"I found if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, a sociology doctoral candidate.

"Masculine overcompensation is the idea that men who are insecure about their masculinity will behave in an extremely masculine way as compensation.

"I wanted to test this idea and explore whether overcompensation could explain some attitudes like support for war and animosity to homosexuals," Willer said.

His research involved male and female Cornell undergraduates who randomly were told their responses to a gender identity survey indicated either a masculine or a feminine identity.

While women's responses were unchanged regardless of feedback they received, men's reactions "were strongly affected by this feedback," Willer said.

"Masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men," said Willer.

He plans to present his findings Aug. 15 during the American Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting in Philadelphia.

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