Manning Up: Threatened Men Compensate by Disavowing Feminine Preferences and Embracing Masculine Attributes

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Abstract

The current paper investigates two basic strategies that men use to recover from masculinity threats: (i) avoiding stereotypically feminine preferences and (ii) exaggerating their masculinity. In two experiments, males were either given false feedback that threatened their masculinity (i.e., underperforming on a masculinity test in Study 1, being physically weak in Study 2) or told they were average for their gender (control). Males who had their masculinity threatened expressed lower preference for stereotypically feminine products but did not express greater preference for stereotypically masculine products (Studies 1 and 2). Additionally, threatened men claimed more stereotypically masculine attributes, such as height, number of past sexual relationships, and aggressiveness (Study 2). These findings provide insight into how people react to identity threats by deploying specific strategies that most effectively restore their questioned identities.

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