Dormant Masculinity: Moderating Effects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication on the Relation Between Male Role Norms and Antigay Aggression

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Abstract

Acute alcohol intoxication was examined as a moderator of the association between men's adherence to traditional gender norms and aggression toward a gay male. Participants were 164 heterosexual drinking men between the ages of 21 and 30 years. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires that included a measure of adherence to male role norms (i.e., status, toughness, antifemininity), were randomly assigned to consume an alcohol or no-alcohol control beverage, and completed the Taylor Aggression Paradigm in which electric shocks were administered to, and received from, a fictitious gay or heterosexual male opponent. Results indicated that a greater adherence to both the toughness (β = .50, p = .002) and antifeminine (β = .37, p = .023) norms predicted high levels of aggression toward a gay man only among participants who were intoxicated. This interaction effect was not detected for the status norm. Consistent with previous research, findings suggest that adherence to the toughness norm does not increase sober men's risk of aggression toward gay men. However, this is the first study to demonstrate that alcohol intoxication may activate concepts of toughness, and thus may influence men to act in line with this facet of the masculine concept. Importantly, these data support the view that men's adherence to various dimensions of masculinity may be dormant in some contexts, only to be activated, and subsequently demonstrated, in other contexts.

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