Carnegie Mellon University
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Increasing Emotional Support in Males

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posted on 2019-02-28, 19:43 authored by Sophia MakalSophia Makal
Previous research on emotional support provision has often shown that women are more willing to give emotional support than men, but little work has been done to understand why this occurs or how to eliminate the gender difference. The present study explored the theory that providing emotional support is a threat to males’ masculinity, self-esteem, and/or self-integrity, causing the gender difference in emotional support provision. This study also examined possible means of decreasing feelings of threat in males, and ultimately increasing emotional support provision,through the use of self-affirmation (affirming the self by thinking about one’s important values) and security priming (increasing feelings of attachment security by thinking about one’s secure relationships). Participants in an online study (Mage =48.62 years) were randomly assigned to a self-affirmation, security prime, or control condition prior to imagining themselves in a scenario involving a friend in a difficult situation and in need of emotional support. Participants then reported feelings of masculinity, self-esteem, and self-integrity, and completed self-report and behavioral measures of emotional support provision. Results partially supported hypotheses by revealing a marginal condition x gender interaction predicting self-reported emotional support, such that females in the control condition reported more emotional support than males, but the gender difference was eliminated in the security priming condition. There were no significant effects for the behavioral measure of emotional support provision, the proposed mechanisms, or the self-affirmation manipulation. Implications of results are discussed.





Brooke Feeney


  • Psychology

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