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.
- 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.