Being sexist may affect your mental health, says a study published by the American Psychological Association. The study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, suggested that men who see themselves as playboys or as having power over women are more likely to have psychological problems than men who conform less to traditionally masculine norms.
“In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favourable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms,” said lead author Y. Joel Wong, PhD, of Indiana University Bloomington.
Wong and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 78 research samples involving 19,453 participants that focused on the relationship between mental health and conformity to 11 norms generally considered by experts to reflect society’s expectations of traditional masculinity:
• desire to win • need for emotional control • risk-taking • violence • dominance • playboy (sexual promiscuity) • self-reliance • primacy of work (importance placed on one’s job) • power over women • disdain for homosexuality • pursuit of status
Specifically, they focused on three broad types of mental health outcomes: negative mental health (e.g., depression), positive mental health (e.g., life satisfaction), and psychological help seeking (e.g., seeking counseling services).
While overall, conforming to masculine norms was associated with negative mental health outcomes in subjects, the researchers found the association to be most consistent for these three norms — self-reliance, pursuit of playboy behaviour, 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,” he added.
Men who strongly conformed to masculine norms were not only more likely to have poor mental health but also less likely to seek mental health treatment.
There was one dimension for which the researchers were unable to find any significant effects.