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.