A team of psychologists analyzed data from already conducted research, spanning 10 years, and found that about 20,000 males have higher chances of suffering from psychological ailments if they endorse what is known as a ‘playboy’ behavior, traditional ideas regarding masculinity, and think that it is important to hold power over females. These men also have a less chance of looking for help to deal with their problems.
The current scientific observation shows that the cultural norms that have a negative impact on how women are treated are actually harmful for men too. The meta-analysis was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. It went over a total of 78 studies regarding mental health and masculinity. The studies were conducted between the years 2003 till 2013. All of the participants fell in the age range of 12 to more than 65. A majority of the sample consisted of men. More than 50% of the observed studies involved white men. However, some of them also focused on Asian Americans and African Americans. While a lot of the studies didn’t ask about sexual orientation, the studies that did ask about it showed that a majority of the volunteers identified as straight.
A total of 11 norms, linked to traditional views of masculinity, were identified by the team of researchers. These norms included things like the need to have emotional control, having the desire to win, taking risks, being violent, asserting dominance, having self-reliance, being sexually promiscuous, wanting power over females, desiring status, showing disdain towards homosexuality, and work primacy. The researchers observed whether or not these norms had a relationship with certain mental health consequences.
The results showed that males who stuck strongly to traditional norms concerning masculinity had a higher chance of experiencing stress, substance abuse, depression, issues with body image, and negative social functioning. These men were also not very likely to seek out counseling in order to deal with these mental ailments. The said effect was significantly higher in men who demonstrated playboy behavior, self-reliance and wanting power over females.
According to the lead author of the study, Y. Joel Wong from Indiana University, the current results didn’t come as a surprise. There is more than 20 years of scientific data backing the revealed outcome. A lot of psychologists have shown interest in studying what is termed as ‘toxic masculinity’. It has to deal with the idea that particular traditional norms about male behavior have a negative impact not only on women, but men and society as well. The point behind such research isn’t to demonize males but to understand how some reinforced and encouraged norms in men are damaging their own as well as other’s health.
It is important to note that not all traditional norms associated with masculinity had a link to mental problems. No negative or positive health effects were seen because of prioritizing work. However, taking risks showed an association with significant negative and positive consequences concerning mental health. It was likely due to how a certain risk paid off for an individual. A correlation between severe psychological problems and valuing power over females and having a playboy behavior was also observed.
According to the lead author, there are numerous people who might argue that being a playboy and self-reliant are what is meant to be an actual man. However, the interpretation of masculinity has changed over the course of history and thus, can still be changed. Having certain ideas because they are encouraged doesn’t mean that they’re healthy for an individual and the rest of society.