Beer for “Brohood”: A Laboratory Simulation of Masculinity Confirmation Through Alcohol Use Behaviors in Men

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Abstract

Though alcohol use is a widespread behavior, men tend to drink more and experience more alcohol-related negative consequences than do women. Research suggests that individuals are motivated to maintain ingroup status by engaging in behaviors prototypical of the ingroup when group status has been threatened, and that men are particularly likely to do this when masculine ingroup status is threatened. The present study investigated masculine drinking behaviors through a social lens, examining the impact of masculinity threat on alcohol consumption in a simulated bar laboratory. Sixty-five male students ages 21–29 years (Mage = 22.66; 74% White) consumed beer in a taste-test paradigm after being exposed to randomly assigned personality feedback relative to gender standards. This feedback suggested that they were either low in masculinity (threat condition, n = 22) or high in masculinity (control condition, n = 22). A third condition received the low-masculinity feedback and then were exposed to information to undermine masculine alcohol use norms (undermine condition, n = 21) to account for negative affect reduction motives for use. As hypothesized, individuals in the threat condition consumed significantly more alcohol than those in the control and undermine conditions, even though the threat and undermine conditions reported similar levels of negative affect following masculinity threat. These results suggest that consumption of alcohol by men in social contexts may be strongly motivated by the desire to confirm masculine status. This understanding may be used to enhance the effectiveness of alcohol use intervention protocols.

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