manhood, masculinity, aggression, gender role threat
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, v. 95, issue 6, p. 1325-1339
Scholar Commons Citation
Vandello, Joseph A.; Bosson, Jennifer K.; Cohen, Dov; Burnaford, Rochelle M.; and Weaver, Jonathan R., "Precarious Manhood" (2008). Psychology Faculty Publications. 1178.