"Man points": masculine capital and young men's health

de Visser, Richard O. and McDonnell, Elizabeth J. (2012) "Man points": masculine capital and young men's health. Health Psychology, 32 (1). pp. 5-14. ISSN 0278-6133

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Objective: Health behaviors are important resources for the development and display of masculine identity. The aim of this mixed-method study was to examine how “masculine capital” is accrued via traditionally masculine behaviors and used to permit nonmasculine behavior.

Methods: An online survey assessing personal importance of gender identity, gender role stereotypes, and beliefs about the gender of various health behaviors was completed by 731 university students. Interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 16 of these men and women.

Results: Quantitative data showed significant positive associations between perceived masculinity and engagement in a greater number of traditionally masculine health behaviors. Such patterns were clearest among young men and women who endorsed gender role stereotypes and gave greater importance to their own gender identity. Qualitative data supported the quantitative data: participants with more traditional gender role beliefs had more strict beliefs about the masculinity of various health behaviors. When asked about their own experiences, many men described having engaged in traditionally masculine health-related behaviors so as to accrue masculine capital or use it to permit nonmasculine (or feminine) behavior.

Conclusions: The novel use of a gender-relations approach in this mixed-method study of young men and women expanded on earlier smaller scale studies of men and masculine capital. The findings add to understanding of the concept of “masculine capital” and suggest how it may aid efforts to better understand and improve young men's health. Young men's concerns about masculinity could be harnessed to encourage healthy “masculine” behavior. However, such approaches may not be effective for men who eschew traditional definitions of masculinity. Furthermore, failure to question socially constructed definitions of gender may reinforce stereotypes that restrict men's and women's opportunities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online First Publication
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2012 12:25
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 15:48
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39806
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