Sexist Men More Likely to Suffer Mental Health Issues: Report

A bodybuilder flexes his muscles
A bodybuilder flexes his muscles in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 19. According to analysis, men who conform to gender norms of masculinity are doing themselves a mental disservice. Majid Saeedi/Getty

Sexist men who see themselves as 'playboys' are more likely to have psychological problems than men who conform less to traditionally masculine norms, according to research.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association collected analysis from 19,453 men. It focused on the relationship between their mental health and their conformity to 11 gender norms considered by experts to reflect society's expectations of traditional masculinity.

These norms included the desire to win, the need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status.

"In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favorable attitudes toward seeking psychological help," said lead author Y Joel Wong of Indiana University Bloomington.

Wong and his colleagues focused on three mental-health outcomes: negative mental health such as loneliness and depression, positive mental health such as life satisfaction, and "psychological help-seeking" such as counselling.

While overall, conforming to masculine norms was associated with negative mental-health outcomes, the researchers found the association to be most consistent for under the traits of self-reliance, pursuit of playboy behavior and power over women.

"The masculine norms of playboy and power over women are the norms most closely associated with sexist attitudes," said Wong. "The robust association between conformity to these two norms and negative mental health-related outcomes underscores the idea that sexism is not merely a social injustice, but may also have a detrimental effect on the mental health of those who embrace such attitudes."