Watch out for not-so-macho men

Are you this macho? If not, try not to feel bad (file)
Are you this macho? If not, try not to feel bad (file)

Men who don't feel stereotypically 'manly' and worry others think less of them because of it are more likely to commit violent assaults, a new study claims.

The researchers, writing in the British Medical Journal, call it "male discrepancy stress", which "may arise from the perceived discrepancy between the individual's subjective level of masculinity and his perception of predominant social mandates".

Previous studies have shown 'macho' men are "more likely to engage in stereotypical male behaviours, such as risk-taking, substance misuse, and acts of aggression".

This latest research suggests men who worry about what others think of their masculinity are more likely to get into fights than those who are comfortable in their own skin, and much more likely to use weapons, even if they're not stereotypically macho.

"Some men who are low on masculine conformity may be at comparable risk to incur and inflict injury via acts of severe violence, as are their high-masculine conforming counterparts," the study reads.

Discrepancy stress wasn't linked to average alcohol and drug intake, but 'un-manly' men who don't care what others think were found to be less likely to commit violent acts and drive while under the influence.

"This may suggest that substance use/abuse behaviours are less salient methods of demonstrating traditional masculinity in contrast to behaviours related to sex and violence, perhaps due to the potentially private nature of the habit," the researchers say.

They conclude that in order to bring down the number of men engaging in risky behaviour, attention needs to be paid to the "means by which masculine socialisation and acceptance of gender norms may induce distress in boys and men".

The data was collected via surveys of about 600 US men aged between 18 and 50, a group which accounts for the highest rates of violence and injury in US society.

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