Men who live a playboy lifestyle or engage in misogynistic behavior are more apt to have mental health issues, research suggests.
The study, published by the American Psychological Association, says strong links exist between sexist behavior and issues such as depression and substance abuse. It also says there are higher incidents of mental challenges among these men than those with less sexist attitudes.
“Some of these sexist masculine norms, like being a playboy and power over women, aren’t just a social injustice, but they are also potentially bad for your mental health,” said Joel Wong, lead author of the study.
Researchers looked at more than 70 U.S. based studies involving 19,000 men over the course of 11 years. They reviewed 11 norms that experts say reflected society’s expectations of traditional masculinity, such as a desire to win, risk-taking and active pursuit of status.
Traits and norms that were most closely linked to mental health problems were playboy behavior, sexual promiscuity, power over women and self-reliance, Wong said.
The study said men who exhibited traits like self-reliance, which can include not asking for directions when one is lost, were less likely to seek mental health treatment.
One social norm that the researchers could not link to mental health was expertise or command of one’s work.
“Perhaps this is a reflection of the complexity of work and its implications for well-being,” Wong said, who is also an associate professor of counseling psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. “An excessive focus on work can be harmful to one’s health and interpersonal relationships, but work is also a source of meaning for many individuals.”