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Sexism and Mental HealthUpdated automatically every 5 minutes

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Claim: Are sexist men more likely to have mental health issues?

Status: plausible


Claims that the sexist behaviors of men can create mental health problems have been appearing across news sites during late 2016. These claims originated from the APA's study that claimed their studies showed links between sexism in men and mental health issues. The study from the American Psychological Association posted their study on November 21, 2016. The Guardian posted their article the same day, and the Washington Post the following day of November 22.


Origin and Prevalence:

All sources identifying this claim can be sourced back to a study done by the American Psychological Association. This study analyzed and drew from 78 different studies, with a total of 19453 participants, on how men who identify with more masculine characteristics and behavior relate to their mental health. The study analyzed how 11 variables that were attributed to masculine behaviors, winning, emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, playboy, self-reliance, a primacy of work, power over women, pursuit over status, and disdain for homosexuals. The conclusions of this study, "Our meta-analytic findings reveal that conformity to masculine norms was positively associated with negative mental health as well as inversely related to positive mental health and psychological help seeking."




Issues and analysis:

The study is not ignorant to its limitations and suggests some things to consider before declaring that this claim is fact. The study primarily looked at data of constructed behaviors of masculinity and not physical behaviors that attribute to masculinity such as exercise that good benefit mental health. Another limitation was that the study only analyzed data written in English and could have left our meaningful data in a foreign language, nor did they specify if the sexual orientation of the males analyzed. From these limitations, one cannot fully declare this claim to be fact, but only plausible.

The APA also released a brief description of the study's findings on its website. It notes that there is a relationship between sexism in males ("playboy" attitude, ideas of traditional masculinity, etc.) and not just mental health, but participating in risky behaviors and not being likely to seek professional help. While they found a connection between these things, there was one realm where they didn't find any real effects: self-reliance. This may be due to the complexity of the issue since many men find meaning in things like their jobs.

Shortly after the study was released, the Washington Post wrote an article summarizing the study. In addition to hitting the statistical highlights, they also gathered quotes and background information from both the authors of the study (such as Y. Joel Wong) and leading researchers and teachers in the field (such as Micheal Addis).

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The Digital Polarization Initiative is a student-run project which allows university students to investigate questions of truth and authority on the web and publish their results. Learn more, or see our index. Photo credits here. DigiPo members can edit this page.