Men experience gender-role harassment when they are ridiculed or ostracized for being “not man enough” (Berdahl 2007). Although men’s emotional (e.g. shame and anxiety) and behavioural reactions (e.g. aggression) to gender-threatening feedback have been documented (Vandello et al. 2008), potential cognitive and self-regulatory consequences of this form of harassment have yet to be investigated. In the present experiment, 84 Introductory Psychology men at a Canadian university (Winnipeg, Manitoba) either experienced or did not experience gender-role harassment (i.e. told they squeezed a handgrip ‘like a girl’) before completing a set of tests (an anagram test, a stroop color-naming task, and a subsequent handgrip task). To ensure our experimental manipulation invoked a threat to participant’s sense of manliness, we also included an open-ended measure of self-identification. In accordance with Social Identity research (Ellemers, Spears, & Doosje, 2002), we anticipated that harassed men would affirm male self-aspects significantly more so than non-harassed men. Overall, results demonstrated that, as predicted, gender-role harassment significantly threatened participant’s sense of manhood, compromised cognitive ability, and weakened attentional self-control compared to the no harassment control condition. However, contrary to predictions, harassment did not weaken self-regulatory physical strength: men in the harassment condition exhibited increased handgrip strength compared to men in the no harassment condition, suggesting potential compensatory reactions occurred, as well. Implications of gender-role harassment for men’s psychological well-being, intellect, and impulse control are discussed and areas for future research are outlined.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2011
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