Shocking Study: Men Overcompensate for Perceived Lack of Masculinity

A new study has changed everything we thought we knew about male behavior and masculinity. The study showed that when men feel their masculinity threatened or diminished in one area, they feel the need to compensate for that by exaggerating other traits that they believe make them masculine, like the number of women they’ve had sex with.

It was really kind of an ingenious study. They took a bunch of men and told them that they were participating in a study about the effects of physical exertion on decision making. They had them squeeze a handheld device as hard as they could, then gave them fake data on how strong their grip was. Half the men were told they had a strong, manly grip; the others were told that they had a weak grip — you know, like a woman. Then they had them fill out a survey online about various things.

When this part of the test was over, participants were asked to fill out online questionnaires asking various questions about their height, the number of previous romantic partners they had, whether they had specific personality traits, and whether they used products that could be interpreted as “male” or “female”; they laced these questions with other “distracter questions” so that the students would not get an idea of what was actually being asked.

What they found was interesting, but not surprising. Those who were told they had a weaker grip exaggerated their height by an average of three-quarters of an inch. “Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men.” Cheryan said in a recent press release.

Researchers also found that those who scored lower in the first part of the study also exaggerated the number of their romantic relationships, claimed to be more aggressive and athletic, and did not present any interest in stereotypically “feminine” products. “We know that being seen as masculine is very important for a lot of men,” Cheryan said. “We discovered that the things that men were using to assert their masculinity were the very things that are used as signals of identity.”

On the contrary, men who received average scores on their exertion tests did not feel the need to exaggerate the questionnaire. Researchers believe this difference can be attributed to a man’s need to be identified by strictly masculine characteristics. If these characteristics then fall into question, men will assert them in other ways, no matter how minute.

For the final part of the experiment, researchers gave participants a fictional score for the questionnaire, telling them that 72 out of 100 was average, while 100 represented “completely masculine.” They then gave participants random scores between 26 and 73. After, researchers asked the participants about the products they used on a daily basis, and once again, those who were scored lower did not mention using products gendered “feminine.”

This is so surprising. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never seen a man exaggerate his sexual prowess or strike a macho posture to assert their dominance. I mean, who ever heard of such a thing? I’m not buying this until I see it confirmed in real life.

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  • http://healthvsmedicine.blogspot.com cervantes

    They also feel the need to parade around brandishing giant external death penises, and jack up their pickup trucks.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Whatever, dude. Fuck you! You don’t know me! Besides, I’ve had sex with 100s of women and can leg press 2000lbs. Imma kick your ass!!!1111 NO, that is NOT my moisturizer! I don’t know how it got there!!!1

  • Big Boppa

    A new study has changed everything we thought we knew about male behavior and masculinity. The study showed that when men feel their masculinity threatened or diminished in one area, they feel the need to compensate for that by exaggerating other traits that they believe make them masculine…

    In other earth shattering news. Science guys discover that stuff gets wet in the rain.

  • Big Boppa
  • flex

    This is great example for people who don’t understand what is meant by priming.

  • lldayo

    I flexed my muscles while doing a no handed keg stand, eating a rock sandwich with the hottest girl from every ethnicity throughout the world watching naked ready to have an orgy while reading this blog post. And that’s just a normal day for me.

  • Sastra

    I wonder if they’d find the same effect in women. If they feel their ‘femininity’ diminished, do they compensate to appear more ‘ladylike’ — or do they equate ‘masculine’ with ‘better?’

  • Big Boppa

    lldayo @6

    It takes you a whole day?

    Wimp.

  • Synfandel
  • lldayo

    Big Boppa @8

    Only a real man can last all day pleasing all them womens. Sometimes, just to show off, I’ll jump a motorcycle, car and skateboard over them at the same time while still performing my manly duties.

  • JustaTech

    Skimming the study it looks like all of the participants were undergraduates (so probably young). I’d be interested to see what the results look like for older men (middle-aged, retired) to see if age-related insecurity is a factor.

    The researchers also only collected ethnicity data for one experiment (not the hand-strength one, but an activity based one, something about shopping at Hone Depot), but that might also be an interesting area to look at. You’d need a much bigger sample size, and from a more diverse population than a college campus. (Ah, the American college student. The most studied species on the planet.)

    Yes, we need science to prove the obvious, because otherwise it hasn’t been proved, so it might not be obvious enough.

  • busterggi

    I undercompensate for my manliness as much as possible. I don’t carry a gun or brag about the few women I’ve been involved with over forty+ years or drive a truck. I’m already too imtimidating for my own good.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Obviously this “study” was set up by a bunch of beta-males trying to get back at the alphas.

  • Big Boppa

    JustaTech @11

    I suspect the results would be pretty much the same if the study group were middle aged men. Except they’d be sucking their guts in while answering the questions.

  • dhall

    #4 and #9 – Now I have to go poke my eyes out . . .

  • eric

    I would’ve loved to see the experimenters add some completely false ‘test’ to the experiment, to see not just whether these men exaggerate but whether they will blatantly lie. Example: “did you read John Manly’s article on testosterone treatment in the Wall Street Journal yesterday?” when there was no such article or author.

    Let’s have some real fun and test just how far the lying will go. How unmanly do you have to make a guy feel before he starts claiming he slew three dragons and ate a yeti?

  • Big Boppa

    @16

    You mean Professor John Manly of the the Burly Institute of Androgistan?

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I have a flaming sword!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    … It got better.

  • johnwoodford

    OK, this is a cheap shot, but still funny:

    Hummer: Now Everyone Will Know

  • Michael Heath

    OK, but how do we explain why women buy Hummers?

  • moarscienceplz

    All I’m sayin’ is that Wilt Chamberlain is like a monk compared to me. True story!

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    @7 Sastra,

    The article says that a similar effect occurs with women, though in this study they didn’t focus on it.

  • Artor

    I dunno how “ingenious” the study was. If I were participating in a scientific study, I’d start to snicker as soon as they started talking about masculinity as a quantifiable thing. I also have a good idea of my own strengths and weaknesses, so the false data might tip me off too.

  • Dunc

    Skimming the study it looks like all of the participants were undergraduates (so probably young). I’d be interested to see what the results look like for older men (middle-aged, retired) to see if age-related insecurity is a factor.

    I’d also be very interested to see how the effect varies across cultures… Obviously the specific traits coded as masculine will vary by culture, but I’d be particularly interested to see how the magnitude of the effect in general varies.

    If I were participating in a scientific study, I’d start to snicker as soon as they started talking about masculinity as a quantifiable thing.

    The study was carefully designed to disguise what it was they were actually trying to measure. The participants had no idea what they were actually investigating. That’s pretty standard for these sorts of things, otherwise you get completely useless results.

  • thebookofdave

    Geez, get a load of the freakishly large sample size of that study. Clearly, the team was making up for shortcomings in other areas, amirite?

  • Mobius

    [/sarcasm]

  • Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y

    Researchers believe this difference can be attributed to a man’s need to be identified by strictly masculine characteristics. If these characteristics then fall into question, men will assert them in other ways, no matter how minute.

    Narrower brush, plz. >.>