Precarious Manhood And Threat-Motivated Gun-Related Attitudes And Behavioral Intentions Among Men In The United States
The precarious manhood thesis posits that men are motivated to maintain attributes associated with societally accepted forms of masculinity. As a result, when men feel their manhood is threatened, they tend to respond with exaggerated displays of masculinity. Prior research indicates that guns are closely intertwined with masculinity and thus may be a tool through which men can demonstrate their manhood when feeling threatened. To empirically test this idea, the current research conducted two experimental studies examining the causal influence of masculinity threats on gun-related attitudes (Study 1) and behaviors (Study 2). It was hypothesized that men exposed to a masculinity threat would report more gun-supportive attitudes and have a greater likelihood of engaging in gun-related behaviors relative to men exposed to a gender affirmation— especially in a public context. Adult men residing in the United States (N = 381) completed assessments of demographics and adherence to masculine gender norms prior to their randomization into the masculinity threat and public display conditions. Following the manipulations, Study 1 participants (n = 184) completed measures of gun- related attitudes, while Study 2 participants (n = 197) also completed assessments of gun-related behaviors. Results generally did not support a causal association between the masculinity threat manipulation and gun-related constructs, resulting in retention of the null hypotheses. However, exploratory analyses revealed significant associations between adherence to masculine gender norms and demographic variables with gun-related outcomes. Together, these results suggest that masculinity threats do not have a causal influence on gun-related variables. Rather, gun-related attitudes and behaviors are partially explained by social, developmental, and cultural factors—including adherence to masculine gender norms.
Psychology, Firearms, Gender Norms, Gun Control, Guns, Masculinity