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Societal norms dictating that men should be masculine are powerful.A new study finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.He also is well-known for being an obedient, henpecked husband, for Dame Van Winkle has no problem shouting insults into the neighborhood and tracking him down in the village to berate him.
'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.
Though the study focused exclusively on men, Cheryan noted that women also feel pressure to live up to gender ideals of femininity, such as being people-focused and nurturing.
And new University of Washington research finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might be prompted to reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.
Published last week in , the research sought to understand how men respond when their masculinity is threatened, and looked at two specific strategies they might employ: playing up their manliness and rejecting feminine preferences.
If women believe they are falling short of those expectations, Cheryan said, they might make choices with potentially negative consequences to demonstrate that they fit gender norms -- for example, avoiding classes in traditionally male fields such as science and technology.
Cheryan got the idea for the experiments from a men's fitness magazine she was reading while working out at the gym several years ago.Men who were told they scored low on masculinity tests were more likely to act aggressively, harass women and belittle other men.Additionally, unemployed men were more likely to instigate violence against women, and men who were not their household's primary breadwinner were less willing to share in housework duties.The magazine had a feature that asked men on the street how much they could bench press and then brought them into a gym to put their statements to the test.Most couldn't bench what they claimed they could, and that got Cheryan thinking: What would those men do, she wondered, now that their masculinity was threatened?Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed bogus bell curves representing male and female results, with the female curve clearly lower than the male one.Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.Identifying the various strategies men use when their masculinity is threatened, Cheryan said, can help with understanding male behavior in real-life situations.'Men have a lot of power in our society, and what this study shows is that some decisions can be influenced by how they're feeling about their masculinity in the moment,' she said.'We discovered that the things that men were using to assert their masculinity were the very things that are used as signals of identity.' The research involved male students at Stanford University, where Cheryan received her doctorate in psychology.The students were told they were participating in research on how exertion impacts decision-making and were asked to squeeze a handheld device with each hand.