When to shelf the tough guy act — Why do women live longer than men?

Mary Rechtoris -   Print  |

With women living an average of 4.8 years longer than men, researchers decided to conduct a study analyzing the reasons for the discrepancy. Researchers found men who had more traditional beliefs around masculinity were more likely to put off seeking care for a medical problem, compared to men or women with less traditional beliefs, according to Medical News Today.

In the study, nearly 250 participants filled out an online questionnaire that analyzed their opinions about manhood, as well as the attributes of men and women. The traditional beliefs defining masculinity included men should be "tough, brave, self-reliant and restrained in their expression of emotion."


The study also found women who believed they should be "brave and self-reliant" were less likely to seek medical help as well and were less likely to be honest with their physicians, compared with women who did not possess the same values.


In a different part of the study, researchers had 250 male undergraduates at a large public university fill out similar questionnaires. Then, researchers had both male and female pre-medical and nursing students interview each subject about their medical conditions. Researchers found the higher the men scored on the masculinity scale, the more likely they were to select a male physician. However, the men who selected a male physician were less likely to be open with that physician about their symptoms because they did not want to display weakness or dependence to another man.


Researchers concluded "masculine contingencies of self-worth have downstream consequences for men and women through barriers to help seeking." While both men and women with values around bravery and self-reliance were less likely to receive care, the researchers emphasized more men have a 'cultural script' telling them to be brave and tough.


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