Threatened-masculinity shame-related responses among straight men: Measurement and relationship to aggression.

The significant sex-based discrepancy in violent crime suggests that something about maleness or masculinity contributes to this pattern. Research on masculinities clearly indicates that if men struggle to meet masculine gender role expectations, they are likely to report distress (Eisler & Skidmore, 1987; O’Neil, 2008). Empirical work demonstrates that failing to meet these expectations causes some men to become aggressive (Vandello & Bosson, 2013), but literature has not fully elucidated the psychological experience of that connection. To better understand the role threatened masculinity may play in fomenting male aggression, we created a new measure of threatened-masculinity shame-related responses. We then explored how these experiences related to aggression. The Masculinity and Shame Questionnaire is a scenario-based measure of shame-related responses to threatened masculinity: feel shame, escape, prevent exposure, and externalize blame. In a validation study with heterosexual males (n = 460), we found strong evidence for validity of the Masculinity and Shame Questionnaire among heterosexual men and a clear connection between threatened-masculinity shame-related responses and self-reports of a tendency to be physically aggressive. Threatened-masculinity externalization of blame mediated the relationship between threatened-masculinity shame-related responses and self-reported physically aggressive behaviors. Further, regression analyses showed that threatened-masculinity shame-related responses account for variance in self-reported physically aggressive behaviors above and beyond the variance accounted for by general shame. Results suggest the threatened-masculinity shame dynamic is critical to consider in violence prevention and intervention work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)