Do “macho” men risk dying young?


A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior reports data suggesting that stereotypically “macho” attitudes to masculinity are associated with a reduced likelihood of participation in preventive care. This study is also discussed in detail on the Wall Street Journal Ideas Market blog site.

Springer and Mouzen report data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Health Study, which has been compiling data on a group of about 1,000 men who graduated from high school in Wisconsin in 1957. Their study divides men into four groups (“quartiles”) based on their self-perceptions of the masculine ideal.

Men with the most “macho” opinions of the masculine ideal (“Women like men with big muscles,” “Men go to work; women look after the home”) were found to be 46 percent less likely than men with less “macho” perceptions to have done three things in the prior year: get a physical exam, get a flu shot, and get a PSA test.

However, the most interesting thing about this study is that the educational achievement level of the men in question had absolutely no impact on the results. It made no difference whether the men had college degrees or not. And in fact there was enough data to suggest a negative effect of “occupational status.” In other words, the more highly paid and the greater the prestige of his job, the less likely it appears to be that a hyper-“macho” male is going to pay attention to preventive care.

You think this might have something to do with why men tend to die younger than women?

2 Responses

  1. Somehow, however unfairly, Donald Trump comes to mind.

  2. The photo on the Wall Street Journal web site showed Jack Nicholson (although whether acting or being himself it might be hard to discern!).

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