Precarious Manhood and Its Links to Action and Aggression

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manhood, gender roles, physical aggression, human sex differences

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Unlike womanhood, manhood is widely viewed as a status that is elusive (it must be earned) and tenuous (it must be demonstrated repeatedly through actions). This focus on the structure—rather than the content—of gender roles can shed new light on men’s use of action and physical aggression. Here, we review theory and research connecting manhood, action, and aggression. We interpret men’s aggression and aggressive displays as behaviors that effectively demonstrate manhood and thus quell men’s concerns about their gender status. Moreover, we suggest that situational and cultural factors that heighten the precariousness of manhood also increase the likelihood of male aggression.

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Current Directions in Psychological Science, v. 20, issue 2, p. 82-86