Homophobic men who exhibit toxic masculinity traits are more likely to be bullies who are violent and carry out sexual harassment, a study has suggested.
Researchers from the US used data from 3,600 men and a new scale of harmful masculinities to explore how toxic masculinity can impact health and society.
The team found 'macho' men with aggressive and anti-LGBT attitudes to be not only more likely to be bullies — but also to experience depression and suicidal thoughts.
Homophobic men who exhibit toxic masculinity traits are more likely to be bullies who are violent and carry out sexual harassment, a study has suggested (stock image)
The so-called 'Man Box Scale' of harmful masculinities was developed by the gender equality consortium Promundo-US — and it covers such themes as acting tough, control, hyper-sexuality, physical attractiveness and rigid gender roles.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh used this 15-point scale in combination with data from more than 3,600 men, aged 18–30 and from across three different countries, that was gathered in 2016.
Participating men had been asked about their notions of masculinity, gender equality and their own mental health.
The team found that those men who scored higher on the Man Box scale were up to five times more likely to engage in online, physical or verbal bullying, as well as sexual harassment.
Furthermore, higher scores were seen to be associated with twice the risk of experiencing depression, or suicidal thoughts.
'There has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community,' said paper author and medical anthropologist Elizabeth Miller University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
However, she added, 'no one has agreed on a standardised way to measure the concept.'
The 'Man Box' concept originated in the 1980s, when activist Paul Kivel and colleagues at the Oakland Men's Project developed the 'Act-Like-a-Man Box' activity to help consider how society tells men they ought to react in various situations.
The exercise involved getting participants to think about how various traits — some of which are associated with 'acting like a man' and are visually grouped inside a box — impact and constrain their behaviour in a series of hypothetical scenarios.
Research has shown that boys and men — just like girls and women — are affected by societal norms around masculinity, experts said. Pictured, participants in