Sexism and 'playboy behaviour' bad for men's mental health, study finds

A study has found links between sexist behaviour and mental health problems.
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A study has found links between sexist behaviour and mental health problems.

Men who behave like promiscuous playboys or feel powerful over women are more likely to have mental health problems than men with less sexist attitudes, according to a study.

Links between sexist behaviour and mental health issues such as depression and substance abuse were found in the study which appeared in the Journal of Counselling Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

"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, an associate professor of counselling psychology at Indiana University Bloomington and lead author of the study.

Its release comes on the heels of the election to the US presidency of Donald Trump, whose comments about women that emerged during the election campaign were condemned by many as sexist and misogynist.

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The research synthesised results of more than 70 US-based studies involving more than 19,000 men over 11 years.

This involved looking at 11 norms generally considered by experts to reflect society's expectations of traditional masculinity including a desire to win, risk-taking and pursuit of status, Wong said.

The traits, or norms, most closely linked to mental health problems were playboy behaviour, or sexual promiscuity, power over women and self-reliance, he said.

"Men who have trouble asking for directions when they're lost, that's a classic example of self-reliance," Wong said.

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Also, men who exhibited those attitudes were also less likely to seek mental health treatment, the study said.

Wong said the primacy of work was not significantly associated with any of the mental health-related outcomes.

"Perhaps this is a reflection of the complexity of work and its implications for well-being," he said.

"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."

 - Reuters

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