It’s hard to understand what fuels sexism after all, pretty much nothing can justify the fact that women are still bound by the glass ceiling and making 78 cents on the dollar. But new research offers some interesting insight into the psyches of sexist men.
The study, published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, discovered that men who see themselves as “playboys” or as having power over women are more likely to have psychological problems than men who don’t. Even scarier, they’re less likely to seek psychological help than their more progressive counterparts.
For the study, scientists from Indiana University Bloomington conducted a meta-analysis of 78 studies that involved 19,453 people. The studies focused on the relationship between mental health and conformity to norms that are usually thought by experts to be what society considers “masculine.” Among them: a desire to win, self-reliance, risk-taking, power over women, pursuit of status, and a need for emotional control.
As for mental health, researchers looked at three outcomes: negative mental health (like depression), positive mental health (overall life satisfaction), and a person’s attitude toward seeking mental help.
Overall, scientists found a link between conforming to masculine norms and mental health problems among men. The most consistent link was seen among men who embraced traits and attitudes relating to self-reliance, risk-taking, pursuit of playboy behavior, and power over women.
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It’s unclear whether sexist attitudes cause poor mental health outcomes—or if symptoms like depression contribute to the formation of those attitudes in the first place. So if you meet a guy who can’t get over the fact that you beat him at bowling, is weirded out when you want to pay, and seems big on being “the man in the relationship,” run…but take pity on the fact that he might be struggling inside.
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